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Know the West

See the vanishing rest stops of the American West

A review of “The Last Stop” and a look at iconic roadside waypoints.


Rest areas offer travelers much more than toilets and picnic tables, says photographer Ryann Ford. Along desolate stretches of highway, they’ve provided relief, hospitality and nostalgia for well over half a century. But they’re disappearing, replaced by monstrous commercial travel centers and fast-food chains. Ford’s new book, The Last Stop, which she funded through an online crowdfunding campaign and completed after many road trips with her mother, is filled with photos of the roadside relics still scattered across the U.S. — from tepees in Texas to rickety benches in the Salt Flats and sun-bleached shelters in the Nevada desert. As historian Joanna Dowling writes in the introduction, “The roadside has been a place of connection, a place of pause, where the experience of the landscape becomes more important than moving beyond it.”

The Last Stop: Vanishing Rest Stops of the American Roadside
By Ryann Ford
173 pages, hardcover, $45.
Powerhouse Books, 2016