In 1978, William Least Heat-Moon set out from Columbia, Missouri on an expedition along America’s back roads, the ones that were marked in blue on his map. Four years later, his book, “Blue Highways” was published. It’s his account of the people and landscapes he discovered along the way. For thirty years, readers have drawn inspiration from Heat-Moon’s travels.
Edgar Ailor III was so inspired, he recreated the entire drive himself, accompanied by his son and his camera equipment. “Blue Highways Revisited” focuses more on photography than on text, and this is what makes it captivating. It offers a complement to Heat-Moon’s book, rather than a reworking of it.
Over the course of thirteen separate trips, Ailor covered the entire original journey and more. He showed remarkable diligence in tracking down the people and places mentioned in the first book, and he does his best to update curious readers on what he discovered. You may or may not be relieved to know you can still find a lard section in some Tennessee grocery stores. At Crisfield Dock in Maryland, the same boat still ferries passengers to Smith Island. But don’t look for the town of Frenchman, Nevada; it no longer exists.
If you’d like to learn more about “Blue Highways Revisited,” come to the Friends Room of the Columbia Public Library on Monday, November 12 at 7 p.m. Ailor will speak about his adventures and the book he and his son created. Copies will be available for purchase and signing. Make sure to visit the authors’ website as well.