All photographs and video © Carlan Tapp 2020 - All Rights Reserved - May not be reproduced or used without written consent


Backbone of America is an interactive eBook photographic essay capturing the story of a unique motorcycle journey across historic US Highway 50 from the Harley-Davidson™ Factory in Missouri to California. Writing about HWY 50, Blue Highways, author, William Heat Moon, says “for the unhurried, this little-known highway is the best national road across the middle of the United States.”  The route offers a compelling cross section of our nation that Time magazine devoted nearly an entire issue in 1997 calling the story the “Backbone of America”.  HWY 50 passes through literally hundreds of time worn small towns, most still remaining untouched by box stores and fast food. From Kansas, following the Arkansas River along the historic Santa Fe Trail, climbing over the Colorado Plateau, into the Great Basin, across the Loneliest Road in America, into California, the route shares vanishing Americana.


The essay contains photographs with interactive galleries of landscapes, historical locations, points of interest, and the colorful individuals who make up the character of the West.  Interactive highway maps provide the reader an opportunity to pin point locations along the route. A daily journal documents people, places and thoughts of the road. Each chapter contains a list of motels and local cafes found to be authentic Americana experiences.  Backbone of America tells the story of the classic American road trip.

"The steel's barely cooled before Carlan Tapp steers a fresh Low Rider® from the H-D factory in Kansas City onto Highway 50. From there, it's everything from Dodge City to Lake Tahoe as he captures a fading, rough 'n' tough America in stunning black and white." HOG® Magazine





If you’ve ever been around motorcycles or bikers, you've probably heard of Sturgis; and if you’ve heard of Sturgis you may know it’s the largest gathering of motorcycle enthusiasts in the world.  The rallies have put Sturgis, SD on the map.  Since the yearly event is vital to the local economy Sturgis residents roll out the red carpet, and the bikers appreciate and respect the grand welcome.


Sturgis brings in motorcycle artists from around the world.  Stunning graphics are painted on bikes and body ink on arms, backs or other designated skin.  Enthusiasts bring antique motorcycles and custom built ones, and others with themes such as the complete Elvis bike.  There are bikers for Jesus, bikers supporting our veterans’ Rolling Thunder Project, bikers representing their countries in native costume, and bikers wearing t-shirts offering truly original words of wisdom.


This book, shot in classic black and white documentary style, celebrates the men and women who rally together every year to immerse themselves in motorcycle culture, meet up with old friends and to enjoy a little uncensored Freedom Of Expression.