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Rest Stops: Vanishing Relics of the American Roadside

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Near Big Bend National Park, Texas

All over the country, rest areas are losing the fight to commercial alternatives: drive-thrus at every exit and mega-sized travel centers offering car washes, wi-fi, grilled paninis and bladder-busting sized fountain drinks. Louisiana has closed 24 of its 34 stops, Virginia, 18 of its 42; pretty much every state in the country has reduced its number of rest areas, or at least cut operating hours. And they’re not just being closed, they’re being demolished.

For the past 53 years, rest stops have given us rest, relief, hospitality and nostalgia. They have been an oasis of green to walk your dog, have a picnic, study the map. We can all relate to rest stops and what they represent as social and architectural icons of Americana. To me though, they are disappearing waysides of memories, anticipation and mystery of what the next one down the road will look like.—Ryann Ford

Austin-based photographer Ryann Ford honors the charm of roadside rest stops throughout the U.S. in her series Rest Stops: Vanishing Relics of the American Roadside. Inspired to systematically document them before they disappear, Ford creates a typological highlight of their architecture, environment, and spirit.

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White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

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Near Burleson, Texas – I-35

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Galveston, Texas

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Walker Lake, Nevada – U.S. 95

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Near Thackerville, Oklahoma – I-35

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Monument Valley, Arizona

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Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona

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Near Abiquiu, New Mexico – U.S. 84

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Juan Santa Cruz Picnic Area – Tucson, Arizona

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Near Augustus, Texas – U.S. 84

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Saguaro National Park, Arizona

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Anthony, New Mexico – I-10 – New Mexico/Texas Border

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