Camp Lewis, or Tent City, was a community of tents set up to provide accommodations at reasonable rates for Lewis Publishing Company subscribers and others attending the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair.
Edward Garner Lewis was a poor student in Connecticut that had an early history of creating products that did not do what was advertised. Products such as `Anti-Skeet' mosquito repellent, and a bogus anti-smoking aid were investigated for being ineffectual.
In 1894, Lewis and his wife moved to St. Louis where he sold 40,000 dollars worth of his `Anti-Skeet.' Lewis used this money to launch pyramid schemes, before going into the publishing business. His `Woman's Magazine had over a million subscribers at its height.
Always the entrepreneur. Lewis, was advertising the 1904 World's Fair a year before it opened. Purchasing a large tract of land north of Delmar, he created a tent city, which he called Camp Lewis.
The St. Louis area hotels, cost much more a day than the daily 50 cents, that Lewis charged Fair visitors. Camp Lewis was a temporary (for the length of the Fair), 85-acre campground which could accommodate 4,000 people.
Campers stayed in tent-cabins with wood floors, iron beds and electric lights. Public showers and baths, reading equipment and smoking areas were nearby. Guests had direct access to the Fair via horse-drawn omnibuses; they could also enjoy nightly campfires and musical entertainment. Lunches cost 25 cents, while dinners were 50 cents. Alcohol was barred from the camp.
On the Fair's opening night, Lewis shone a gigantic searchlight from the top of his building. It was said that the light was seen as far as Kansas City.
In 1908, Lewis' empire started to unravel when he went to trial for mail fraud, and though he was acquitted three times, the damage was done.
In 1927, Lewis was indicted for the second time for conspiracy to use the U.S. mail system to defraud people. Acting as his own attorney, he was found guilty and sentenced to five years at the McNeil Island Federal Prison.
Little is known about Lewis’s life in the succeeding decades leading up to his death in 1950. He died on August 10, 1950.