Welcome to Culturescapes.net.  This is a website created by Dr. Rick Marshall, a highway landscape enthusiast.  This website is dedicated to documenting the American backroads highway landscape, before it is lost.  We are calling this project The American Digital Backroads Project.  We will add photos and maps to document the roadside icons found along America’s backroads.  With most people using the interstate highways the backroad US Numbered highways are becoming neglected and the icons forming the cultural landscape along those highways is rapidly disappearing.

The American Digital Backroads Project will attempt to document the current state of US Numbered highway landscape across America and save it as a digital archive to preserve for future generations. We may not be able to physically save all the artifacts on the American landscape, but we should try to document as many of them as possible, taking a first step to showing their cultural value across America.

We are losing cultural landscape along the US Numbered highways at an alarming rate. The icons we have left need to be digitally captured before they disappear forever.  We have the opportunity to live in the digital age and preserving our cultural heritage through digital means is our responsibility for future generations.

The concept of The American Digital Backroads Project is to travel the length of the numbered highways and digitally collect an inventory of the cultural landscape that exists today.  Our primary tools to tell this story will be photography and interactive maps.  We intend to photograph and geolocate cultural landscape icons and provide the photos and web-based maps on both a web page and an electronic book version of this project.  The map below is a sample that represents Historic Route 66 as it winds its way across Illinois.

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The website will be a living document and will be constantly updated to include updates to the photography, interactive web-based maps, and the story of our backroad highways to help connect both younger and older generations to the cultural heritage our highways have provided for nearly a century.  Along with the digital inventory we collect in first person we will also be asking other highway landscape lovers to collaborate and send us their own stories and photographs to include in the webpage.  The electronic book version will include the same content as the website, but will be delivered in PDF format and will include hyper links to both the photos and interactive maps from a PDF document that will be periodically updated.  There will be no printed version of the book; we will be using the concept of an electronic book that is easily updated and shared. This project will result in a webpage and a PDF document that will serve as an electronic equivalent of a printed coffee table book.   When complete, our project will be a website open to the public to view and contribute their content to and download the PDF version of the book.  We anticipate The American Digital Backroads Project project will function as an inspiration for other future digital documentary projects.