Traveland USA, one of the nation’s first one-stop shops for recreational vehicles and services, and a fixture in Irvine, Calif., for nearly four decades, is about to close its gates for good.

The Orange County Register reported that Traveland USA decided not to extend the lease on the 38-acre parcel that it has occupied off the 5 Freeway since 1973.

“The Traveland site was always intended to transition to a more permanent use upon lease expiration,” said Erin Freeman, Irvine Co. spokeswoman, in a statement Monday (March 5). “We believe transitioning to a longer-term use will better serve the city, its residents and those who come to work in Irvine.”

She said the Irvine Co. is exploring various options for the site and has nothing immediate to announce.

The city of Irvine and the Irvine Chamber of Commerce both tried to find another location in the city for Traveland to move to but without success. It is unclear whether Traveland as a business will continue. The owners could not be reached for comment.

Traveland was built around a frontier days theme and was as much a family entertainment destination as it was an RV mall. Weekends often saw 1,400 cars come through the gates, many loaded with families who would picnic at the duck pond and enjoy entertainment at the nearby gazebo.

And it was a roaring success. During an eight-year stretch in the 1980s, 50,000 RVs, travel trailers, vans, camper shells and tent trailers worth $500 million were sold.

Now it is a virtual ghost town. The main office, with its brick red wood siding and white trim stands vacant. Other buildings have been boarded up.

The Orange County Register reported that El Toro RV, which services recreational vehicles, moved out at the first of the year for new premises on Atlantic Ocean Drive in Lake Forest. That left McMahon’s RV, which has been at Traveland since 1994, as the last dealer at the park.

Mike Lankford, McMahon’s vice president, noted that after all the ups and downs the RV industry has gone through – and even with the current rising gas prices – Traveland is closing just as business is picking up steam again. He said McMahon’s sold 144 vehicles at a show over the weekend.

McMahon’s will be moving to another undisclosed location site in Orange County within the next few months, Lankford said.

Traveland had been due to close in 2001 when its lease expired. But the Irvine Co. extended the lease three times. After so many extensions, the fact the RV park is really finally closing has come as somewhat of a surprise.

Word of the closure has brought former workers back for a last-time look at their old haunt.

“In 1986, it was my first sales job,” reminisced Mark Rosenbaum, now sales director at Mike Thompson’s RV, which relocated from Traveland to Fountain Valley in 1993.

He dropped by a few weeks ago.

“My wife and kids used to come out and feed the ducks,” he recalled.

It was a unique place and experience, one he said that will likely never be repeated in Orange County again.