Jump to content
Forums Gone... but not forgotten!
Pontiac of the Month

hdkeno's 1969 Firebird

2023 March
of the Month

  • Welcome!

    Welcome to Forever Pontiac, where we keep the memory of Pontiac alive with great discussion, maintenance tips, restoration/modification progression "blogs" and help from professional & DIY mechanics. Also, wonderful competitions that occur regularly. Please register for an absolutely free account to join in!

Car and Driver: “The Last Stop,” An Appreciation of a Vanishing Bit of Roadside Americana


Recommended Posts

The-Last-Stop-101With the modern highway rest area becoming a veritable megalopolis that condenses Sprawlville, USA into one convenient stop offering gas, fast food, restrooms, ATMs, WiFi, and more, do you even notice the old-time just-a-rest stops any more? Photographer Ryann Ford does. She’s been shooting them for the past seven years, and the results are collected in a new coffee-table book, “The Last Stop.”


Rest stops would seem to be a highly obscure subject, which may explain why the many photography books dedicated to roadside America have heretofore ignored them.


Ford began to notice them when she moved from Southern California to Texas, and assignments took her all across the state, where she often traveled the back roads. “So many of the ones I saw in Texas were so photogenic,” she says. When she learned that many were being closed or demolished, she began photographing them in earnest.




She has photographed more than 400 of the vanishing roadside rest stops, simple picnic tables under a shade-giving shelter; they’re the kind of spots where motorists would escape the confines of the car for few minutes, pour themselves a drink from a thermos, and unfold a map—although Ford admits to using Google Earth to find them. She estimates that in her quest she has traveled more than 10,000 miles through 21 states, all via Volkswagen Jetta (first one, then another).


Allen Williams could be considered the father of the roadside rest stop. In the summer of 1928, the Michigan highway engineer first noticed automobile travelers parked alongside the road, attempting to picnic; that winter he had snowplow crews build wooden picnic tables in their downtime. The green-painted tables were put out the following spring, and the traveling public loved them.


The first boom in their construction came with the various public works programs that fought the Depression (Texas alone built 674 between 1935 and 1938). The Interstate era brought still more. States in the Midwest and Southwest showed a particular affinity for having rest stop architecture reflect the local area.


Picture 008


“I love the stops that are really great examples of roadside Americana, like all the teepees, and I love the oil derricks and the wagon wheels,” Ford says. “However, I also like the abandoned ones, where they’re really desolate.”


There are no people in any of the shots—except for one. “I ran into Bevo, which is the University of Texas longhorn mascot, when I was shooting in 2010. They were coming home from the Rose Bowl, and I just happened to run into them, so the last shot in the book has Bevo and his handler in it.”


Our seemingly more hurried and certainly more commercialized automotive travel experience of today contrasts sharply with these rest stops of yesterday. With the start of this summer’s road-trip season upon us, perhaps now you’ll take notice of the simple roadside rest stop, a fast-disappearing icon of earlier days of highway travel.


Picture 002


Read Full Article

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Tired of these Ads? Register Today!

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Tired of these Ads? Purchase Enhanced Membership today to remove them!
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.