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The Last Stop is a photography book documenting the vanishing roadside rest areas of America's highways.
The Last Stop is a photography book documenting the vanishing roadside rest areas of America's highways.
391 backers pledged $35,781 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

The Last Stop - A Photo Book of America's Rest Stops project video thumbnail
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$35,781

391

Hello! My name is Ryann Ford and I'm a photographer based in Austin, TX.

For the past five years, I've driven all over the country documenting America's rest stops.

With drive-thrus and gas stations at nearly every exit, rest areas are losing the fight and are vanishing in nearly every state.

Near Big Bend National Park, Texas - FM 170
Near Big Bend National Park, Texas - FM 170
Walker Lake, Nevada - U.S. 95
Walker Lake, Nevada - U.S. 95
Monument Valley, Arizona
Monument Valley, Arizona
Thackerville, Oklahoma - I-35
Thackerville, Oklahoma - I-35
Sonora, Texas - I-10
Sonora, Texas - I-10
Near Clines Corners, New Mexico - U.S. 66/I-40
Near Clines Corners, New Mexico - U.S. 66/I-40

The Story

Shortly after moving to Texas from California seven years ago, I was struck by a recurring sight - the humble rest stop. The more of these roadside parks I saw, the more inspired I became - there were tables shaded by faux oil rigs, teepees and wagon wheels, and geometric shapes echoing classic mid-century design.

I decided to do a little research on these stops and immediately found out the alarming news. All over the country, rest areas were being closed, and some demolished. Many felt that they were no longer necessary with so many fast food restaurants and travel centers.

Upon learning the news, I immediately felt an urgency that I needed to capture as many as I could before they were gone forever.

Near Mammoth, California - U.S. 395
Near Mammoth, California - U.S. 395
Camel Rock, New Mexico - U.S. 84/285
Camel Rock, New Mexico - U.S. 84/285

Why is this Project Important?

To date, I’ve shot well over 150 rest stops and learned that they are so much more than toilets and tables – for the past 58 years they have given us rest, relief, hospitality, and nostalgia.  

When interstate highways were first built, passing up many small towns, rest stops were a way to reconnect people to the places they were traveling though. They gave small towns a chance to show their cultural significance.

Rest areas have become relics of America's roadside past. These sites not only illustrate a unique period in the American travel experience, but are significant for the architectural forms found within them.

Credit - Flickr, Photographer Unknown
Credit - Flickr, Photographer Unknown
Credit - KimBerry.com
Credit - KimBerry.com
Credit - Flickr, William Bird
Credit - Flickr, William Bird

The Book

Soon after I started this project, it became clear that this was more than just a photo series. These rest stops are an important part of American history that need to be archived before they're lost forever. It became my dream to shoot as many as I could before they're lost and to compile them into a book that truly showcases what these rest areas have to offer.

I envision a beautiful, over-sized, full-color, hardcover coffee table book filled with breathtaking images, approximately 100 pages, 75 images.  The book would also begin with a historical textual essay.

The Process

From the beginning, I knew that I wanted the quality of the images to be unmatched - I also wanted a medium that was true to the nostalgia of the subject.

In today's digital world, one of the unique aspects of the project is that all of the images were shot on a medium-format film camera. Film is a lost art in itself that produces extremely high-resolution images with supreme tonal range and color.

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My mom, Sharon, joined me on many of the trips!
My mom, Sharon, joined me on many of the trips!

The Rewards

We are offering a great selection of rewards, everything from one-of-a-kind Polaroids, to amazing experiences, to of course, the book itself!

$5 or more - THANKS: You will receive an invitation to the book launch party here in Austin, TX, and your name will be listed as a donor on the book website. You will also receive my deepest gratitude and know that you are helping preserve America's history!

$25 or more - POLAROID: Receive an original, one-of-a-kind signed Polaroid that was actually taken on one of my road trips, at an actual rest stop. This is not a digital reproduction - this is an original, actual Polaroid straight out of the back of my Mamiya RZ medium-format camera. A great souvenir from the road! Receive everything at the $5 level, too!

$50 or more - HOLIDAY RUSH PRINT: You will receive a beautiful 8.5x11" signed archival print of your choice. You can choose from any of the 20 images on my website. Since they make a great gift, choose this option to ensure you'll receive before Christmas! Receive everything at the $5 level, too!

$50 or more - PRINT & POLAROID: You will receive a beautiful 8.5x11" signed archival print of your choice. You can choose from any of the 20 images on my website. You will also receive an original, one-of-a-kind signed Polaroid that was actually taken on one of my road trips. Receive everything at the $5 level, too!

(frame & mat not included)
(frame & mat not included)

$65 or more - THE BOOK (EARLY BIRD DISCOUNT): You will receive a signed copy of THE LAST STOP BOOK! You will also receive an invite to the book launch party and your name listed as a donor on the website.  Hurry, first 25 books only!

$75 or more - THE BOOK: Get a signed copy of THE LAST STOP BOOK! You will also receive an invite to the book launch party and your name listed as a donor on the website.

not actual book, for illustration only
not actual book, for illustration only

$100 or more - BOOK, PRINT & POLAROID: This is the one you want! You will receive a signed copy of THE LAST STOP BOOK, an 8.5x11" signed archival print of your choice, an original, signed Polaroid from one of my trips, an invite to the book launch party, and your name listed as a donor on the website.

$250 or more - EXPERIENCE PACKAGE: Be our guests at this experience of a lifetime as we host a farm-to-table pop-up dinner at one of Texas' first rest stops near Smithville, TX, about 30 minutes outside of Austin. Not your typical rest stop - dine high atop a hill, surrounded by beautiful oaks and classic mid century architecture. Enjoy a multi-course meal and wine pairings, plus a few more surprises. Also includes all of the items at the $100 level.

$1000 or more - ULTIMATE PACKAGE: You receive a stunning, signed and numbered, museum quality, limited edition print of your choice and everything at the $100 level. Print is 24"x29" and is limited to an edition of only 15 prints. You can choose from any of the 20 images on my website.

Monahans Sandhills State Park, Texas
Monahans Sandhills State Park, Texas

$1250 or more - ULTIMATE PACKAGE & DINNER EXPERIENCE: You will receive a signed and numbered, museum quality, limited edition print of your choice and everything at the $250 level. Print is 24"x29" and is limited to an edition of only 15 prints. You can choose from any of the 20 images on my website.

$4000 or more - MEET ME IN SANTA FE! : Photography & Art enthusiasts will love this trip! Meet me in Santa Fe, NM, as I show you around some of my favorite locations. We will custom design a two-day trip that will include a visit to places such as The Ghost Ranch (made famous by Georgia O'Keeffe), Bandelier National Monument, Abiquiu, Santa Fe’s many museums and galleries - we will even visit and shoot a few of the iconic stops featured in the book. Learn more details in the rewards column at right.

Thank you so much for taking the time to explore my Kickstarter page! Keep up with the progress of the project here on this page, tag along on the road by following us on social media, and as you're traveling this holiday season, tag us in pics of the rest stops you come across on Instagram, or post them on THE LAST STOP BOOK Facebook page.  You might just find one that I haven't discovered yet!

Instagram

THE LAST STOP Facebook Page

Twitter

Press

Read more on the project below -

• The Wall St Journal

• The New York Times Magazine

• The Atlantic - Citylab

• Fast Company

• Photo-Eye

• Feature Shoot

• Texas Architect

• Conde Nast Traveler

Listen to me on NPR

• KCRW - Los Angeles

• New Hampshire Public Radio

Credits: Video filmed and edited by Chris Perez (chrisperezphoto.com), Music by blakewattsdesign.com, All photos and road trip clips by Ryann Ford/Nick Mosley

Risks and challenges

We are currently exploring our options when it comes to how the book will be published. We may go with a publisher, or we may decide to self-publish. Either way, this has been my dream since the beginning, so the book will definitely be published. Because of these uncertainties, production delays may come up, the publishing date may be pushed back, and the final format cannot be guaranteed. Images of book are for illustration purposes only.

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Support this project

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    You will receive an invitation to the book launch party here in Austin, TX and your name will be listed as a donor on the book website. You will also receive my deepest gratitude and know that you are helping preserve America's history!

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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    POLAROID - This reward is really fun! You will receive an original, one-of-kind Polaroid that I took while on one of my road trips shooting for the book. This is not a digital reproduction. You will receive an actual Polaroid from the Mamiya RZ camera that I used for the project. Polaroid will be signed on the front. You will also receive an invite to the book launch party and your name will be listed as a donor on the book website.

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    42 backers
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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    PRINT & POLAROID - You will receive a beautiful 8.5x11" signed archival print of your choice. You can choose from any of the 20 images on my website. You will also receive an original Polaroid (see details of $25 tier), an invite to the book launch party and your name listed as a donor on the book website.

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    34 backers
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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    HOLIDAY RUSH PRINT - You will receive a beautiful 8.5x11" signed archival print of your choice. You can choose from any of the 20 images on my website. You will also receive an invite to the book launch party and your name listed as a donor on the book website. Expedited printing & shipping included! Print will be shipped by Dec 20th to ensure delivery by December 24! Must send print choice within one business day of Kickstarter close.

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    11 backers
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  5. Reward no longer available

    Pledge $65 or more About $65

    BOOK - EARLY BIRD DISCOUNT - You will receive a signed copy of THE LAST STOP BOOK! You will also receive an invite to the book launch party and your name listed as a donor on the website.

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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Reward no longer available 25 backers
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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    BOOK - You will receive a signed copy of THE LAST STOP BOOK! You will also receive an invite to the book launch party and your name listed as a donor on the website.

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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    72 backers
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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    BOOK, PRINT & POLAROID - This is the one you want! You will receive a signed copy of THE LAST STOP BOOK, an 8.5x11" signed archival print of your choice, an original Polaroid from one of my trips, an invite to the book launch party and your name listed as a donor on the website.

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    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    136 backers
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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    EXPERIENCE PACKAGE - Be our guests at this experience-of-a-lifetime as we host a farm-to-table pop-up dinner at one of Texas' first rest stops near Smithville, TX, about 30 minutes outside of Austin. Not your typical rest stop - dine high atop a hill, surrounded by beautiful oaks and classic mid century architecture. Enjoy a multi-course meal and wine pairings, plus a few more surprises. Also includes all of the items at the $100 level. (Delivery date doesn't include book.)

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    Estimated delivery
    12 backers
    $
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  9. Select this reward

    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    ULTIMATE PACKAGE - You will receive a signed and numbered, museum quality, limited edition print of your choice and everything at the $100 level. Print is 24"x29" and is limited to an edition of only 15 prints. You can choose from any of the 20 images on my website.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Only United States
    5 backers
    $
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    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

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  10. Select this reward

    Pledge $1,250 or more About $1,250

    ULTIMATE PACKAGE & DINNER EXPERIENCE - You will receive a signed and numbered, museum quality, limited edition print of your choice and everything at the $250 level. Print is 24"x29" and is limited to an edition of only 15 prints. You can choose from any of the 20 images on my website.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Only United States
    0 backers
    $
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  11. Select this reward

    Pledge $4,000 or more About $4,000

    MEET ME IN SANTA FE! Photography & Art enthusiasts will love this trip! Meet me in Santa Fe, NM as I show you around some of my favorite locations. We will custom design a two-day trip that will include a visit to places such as The Ghost Ranch (made famous by Georgia O'Keeffe), Bandelier National Monument, Abiquiu, Santa Fe’s many museums and galleries - we will even visit and shoot a few of the iconic stops featured in the book. If you’re an aspiring photographer, learn tips and techniques one-on-one with me, and if you’d like, spend time photographing with me. Package includes 1 night accommodation at the luxurious Inn of the Anasazi, breakfast, lunch and dinner on both days and ground transportation. Bring a guest for $1000 more, or share a room with this guest for $600 more. You will also receive a signed book, a signed 8.5x11" print and Polaroid, plus an invite to the launch party and your name on the website listed as a donor.

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    0 backers
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Funding period

- (28 days)