Ghost towns tell the story of America's West, the communities that sprang up where the ground offered up its riches in the form of gold, silver, copper, lead or zinc. Worked out mines - and the towns that grew up alongside them - were simply abandoned as people moved on, leaving behind a slowly decaying but extraordinarily beautiful legacy.
Some are boarded up stores, abandoned after business ran dry; some are remnants of remote communities that a road passed by; some are solitary homesteads, lonely and unloved. Whatever the story, there are few sights more poignant than the slowly decaying shell of a place someone once lived.
Nothing more immediately says American road trip than the sight of a fading 1950s or 60s motel sign. These wonderfully evocative examples of roadside architecture reflect the golden years of American travel and their melancholic deterioration announces the passing of an era.
The appeal of the roadtrip lies in the sense of adventure, the excitement of not knowing what lies beyond the horizon, the anticipation of experiencing views and landscapes unseen. For me, the visual shorthand for this is the sight of a straight, empty road disappearing towards a vanishing point to create a vista of wonderful symmetry.
Once a westward artery offering escape from the desperation of the dust bowl years, today a 2,451 mile-long tourist destination, Route 66 offers the complete American experience, from downtown Chicago, across plains and deserts, to California's Pacific shoreline.
The world fell in love with America in the late 50s / early 60s and these years were defined as much by the auto industry as they were by its music. Rock & roll and teenage rebellion may be long distant memories but the era lives on in the evocative form of these rusting, timeless Fords, Chevrolets, Dodges, and Buicks.