Rest Stop in White Sands, New Mexico

photo by: Ryann Ford

Preservation Magazine, Summer 2015

Roadside Attraction: Retro Rest Stops

Road trips yield striking images of historical rest stops for photographer Ryann Ford.


hile driving from Los Angeles to Austin, Texas, in 2007, photographer Ryann Ford took notice of the roadside rest areas that serve as relics from the early days of American highway travel. Before drive-through restaurants and commercial tourism centers began to dominate, these small structures provided a safe place for travelers to pull over and stretch their legs.

For the past six years, Ford has traveled the country documenting both the safety rest areas established as part of the Federal Highway Act of 1956, and the ones built for visitors to state and national parks. Many are abandoned or underused.

“A lot of people never even notice them,” Ford says.“They drive by them every day, or on road trips, and never give them a second thought.” But their designs, however humble, tell the story of a particular time and place.

Ford is turning her photographs, including those featured here, into a book, The Last Stop: Vanishing Relics of the American Roadside, due out from powerHouse Books next spring.

ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: Explore more photos of historic Roadside Shelters around the country.

Lauren Walser served as the Los Angeles-based field editor of Preservation magazine. She enjoys writing and thinking about art, architecture, and public space, and hopes to one day restore her very own Arts and Crafts-style bungalow.

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