Photographer Scott Sheffield’s series Frontiers, explores the tourist culture surrounding small towns in America that are situated at the entrances of its National Parks. These towns were initially developed as a means to provide food and shelter, but over the decades they’ve transformed into holiday destinations, “appropriating American and regional history for their own commercial benefit” and have become removed from the National Park Service.
Scott has travelled the country to document these towns and to get a sense of how they “serve as representations of the tourism industry in America”. “The businesses in place built to serve tourists – motels, attractions, restaurants and souvenir stores – have become the basis for where I stop to take photographs,” explains Scott. “In trying to accurately depict these places I think it’s important to show how these establishments fit into their natural surroundings, which is the main reason so many visitors pass through these towns on their way into or out of the parks.”
Cradled by the vast landscapes that surround them, these town buildings look drab, awkward and forlorn in comparison, which is emphasized by the grey, cloudy skies. Scott also focuses on the signage dotted about these places and it’s here where we really get a sense of how regional history is being made into something sellable with references to gold mining, Native American tribes and the natural wildlife being garishly attached to clothing and souvenirs.
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