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New Photographic Book Celebrates Route 66 Legacy

Photographer Terrence Moore became fascinated with Route 66 as a nine-year-old boy. That’s when his family made a cross country trip along the highway, and settled in Claremont, California, one of the last legs of the Mother Road. Over the next five decades, Moore captured countless photos of Route 66, documenting as the road became less travelled and turned into a piece of living history. His favorite images of the highway are the focus of his new book, titled “66 on 66, A Photographer’s Journey.” Moore spoke with KNAU’s Aaron Granillo.

Terrence Moore will be at Bright Side Bookshop in Flagstaff Saturday, January 5th at 5:30 p.m.

Aaron Granillo: So, Terrence, can you tell me a little more about that trip from your childhood? What made you so interested with Route 66?

Terrence Moore: Well, having grown up in northern Minnesota, where there’s lots of water, obviously, and lots of big trees, you know coming in to the desert southwest made this huge impression on me. You know, seeing the desert in the summer, you know the Mojave, I can still remember driving through Cucamonga, and seeing eucalyptus trees lining the groves on both sides of Route 66. It was absolutely magic.

Your new book showcases the top 66 images of the highway – your top 66 images, and they span nearly 50 years. What was the story you wanted to tell with those images?

Well, my point of view was I wanted to give a feel for travelling the road the way it would’ve looked 30, 40, 50 years ago. At the same time, I didn’t want to just make it nostalgia or historical. I wanted to put contemporary images in as well, which I did. You know the thing is it’s a different experience today, but it’s still a wonderful experience. And that was my point. I didn’t want to get lost in nostalgia.

Can you talk about the cover photo? It’s a shot taken at night of the Grandview Motel in Albuquerque. How did you settle on that photo for the main art?

Well, it’s kind of unique. My publisher hired a designer to do all the typefaces and the captions. And, she chose the cover without asking me or anyone if we liked it or not. And, at first it didn’t quite have it for me for some reason. But now, I absolutely love it. And, it’s a really unique place. It still exists. I feel that it’s one of the few photos I took that show more than just the detail. You know it shows kind of a broad look. You could see Albuquerque glowing in the background. You could see cars driving down Nine Mile Hill. And obviously, you can see the sign for the Grandview Motel. So, it has all those elements, which I think is a perfect cover.

I want to ask you about another unique photo in your book. It’s the only one that features a person besides just a sign or a building or something like that. So, this one taken in 1999 in Lupton, Arizona, and it shows Chief Juan Yellowhorse. He’s smiling and waving in front of this very, sort of eclectic trading post. What’s the story there?

Well, there were two cousins – two Yellowhorses that had competing businesses there in Lupton. One’s name was John and the other was Juan. And, Juan was the more gregarious one. And, his place was a very happening place. It had a fort. It had buffalo Indian ruins. It had teepees on the cliff. It was a really fun stop. Unfortunately, he passed away just a couple months after I took that photo.

You’ve spent most of your life in the West and Southwest. Is that where most of the Route 66 images are in the book?

Yeah, I have images from Chicago to LA and my friend, Clark, actually laid it out without any image from Illinois. And, I never stopped to really think about it until we had it all laid out. So, my book isn’t complete in that sense. But, what it is complete in is the area I know so well. And, that’s primarily Oklahoma, and certainly New Mexico and Arizona and California.

You know, there’ve been many books and a lot of songs written about Route 66. Where do you want your photos to fit in into the overall history of the highway?

Well, I hope many of them become 66 icons in a sense because at least 50 percent of the photos that are in the book no longer exist. In that sense, hopefully they’ll live on in a historical sense and give people a feel for travelling the old road.