Monday, June 20, 2011

Goodbye...Tell Your Friends...

Goodbye...Tell Your Friends...


It is quite possible this is the only Rock City Barn that doesn't tell you to "See" Rock City. That's because it hopes you've already been there. It is also on a highway going away from Chattanooga, as it is along I-24 heading west towards Nashville.

This is a barn that eluded me for a while. After I first heard about it several years ago, the next couple of times I drove though here were at night when you can't see it. After that, one day I passed through here in the daytime and wasn't thinking about it and the next thing I knew I passed it after seeing it in the corner of my eye. If you go looking for it you see it without much advance notice. Even then, what are you going to do? be the passenger in the car and get it as a drive-by? That works sometimes, but the interstates guard-rail might get in the way even if it turns out halfway decent. That, or you can park on the shoulder on a winding, always busy spot on the interstate.

The best way to get a good view is by finding the rural street that goes right by the barn. So, then on my first attempt, I took exit 158 and drove around the area aimlessly with no luck. Since then, I have gotten a GPS and found Shellmound Rd. which took me right up to the barn! (Bonus hint: Drive a little farther down Shellmound Rd and when it crosses the other lanes of the interstate, you can see a Ruby Falls barn!)

On, this is known as RCB# 42-56-01.
In the Jenkins book, it gets a full page photo on page 125.
In the Capps book, it is barn #8, the Elsie Turner barn.
See it on a map HERE.

It is sad to say, but the title of this post has a double meaning. If you have been a regular reader of this blog, then you have seen I have not been posting regularly. Since I first picked up a digital camera, the Rock City barns have continued to be my first love. However, since then I have branched out to things like County Courthouses, trains, old motels and other neon sings, etc.

As of now, I must say Goodbye to this blog. I will keep it up but not add anything to it. Instead, I have a new website and blog devoted not only to the Barns but the other things I listed above.
My new website is and if you're interested in the most recent posts about the Rock City Barns, keep reading here!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Remember when...?

Remember When Every Barn Had Its SEE ROCK CITY Sign?  This was the title of a magazine article written over 35 years ago that I recently came across.  The article, written by Maxine Thompson and published in Georgia magazine in 1973, talked about the changes evident along the highways in the 8 years since the Johnson 1965 Highway Beautification Act.  In a few short years, southern tourism changed dramatically, from it's heydey in the 40's and 50's.  If the Interstates were going to bypass the entrances to all of the tourist attractions, you needed to have a really good sign to bring people in.  But then, after the Act was passed, many signs had to be removed.  Here's one that still remains today:

See Rock City Today!


One of the best places to see these barns still intact today is in DeKalb County in Alabama, along U.S. Highway 11.  US11 is one of the prominent U.S. Highways in America and this important stretch runs from Birmingham to Chattanooga.  Many of thome miles is in the narrow valley between Lookout Mountain and Sand Mountain.  Today, most motorists take Interstate 59, which parallels US11 very closely.  So close, that the other barn in the picture is a painted advertisement for them, with an ad for Ruby Falls.

From the 1973 article,
"Don't Ride over one of these roads when you're in a hurry.  Take time to browse, to read the faded old signs on the barns.  One of these days the last one of them will complete its crumble into decay.  When that happens, a segment of history will fade away."
Still so true this many years later!

On, this is desgnated as #RCB 01-25-04.
In the Jenkins Book, it is on page 81F, and very faded.
To see it on a map, Click Here.
Lat & Lon: 34.67295oN \ 85.587412oW

Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas Barn at Cal Turner's Farm

C2hristmas-time has brought a new tradition to those who travel down Franklin Road (U.S. 31) in Brentwood, TN (which is a suburb of Nashville). As a traveler, the stream of fancy businesses turns into newer mansions, and then appearing is a wide-open space that looks like it has been preserved in time. From behind a small hill and a green fence emerge an old barn with a mural of the star of Bethlehem giving light to several barnyard animals.

Cal Turner's Christmas Barn

Everything I have written on this blog to date has been for barns with advertisements painted on the barn. This one is different. Nothing is being advertised, but instead, the season is celebrated. The barn isn't painted, but instead, a 400-pound mural is carefully unwrapped and placed on this barn every December. After Christmas has passed, The mural is carefully taken down and put into storage not to be seen for another 11 months.

The farm now belongs to the Turner family. Cal Turner, Sr. was the founder of the Dollar General. Cal Jr. succeeded Sr. as president of the company but also has taken over the farm. Brentwood, like many cities has seen much growth over the decades, and many of the rural areas around the farm aren't rural anymore. Many real estate developers are anxiously waiting for the day this prime land can be turned into more mansions, or maybe even more retail stores. But for now, it's remains a farm and the 60 year old barn serves as a reminder as what life was like in the area decades ago.

Closeup of Christmas Mural

The 48' x 38' over-sized Christmas card was first seen in 1996. Turner Jr. commissioned local art-teacher Chris Tibbot to paint the mural. However, the art is not going to last forever. The painting is fragile since it is exposed to the elements. in years past, they had decided that they couldn't put it up anymore. So far, though, they think it can make it one more winter. This might be the last year it is shown or maybe next year, they'll bring it out for the last time again. Even the barn has become a concern. It was built in the 1940's, but over the years, it has slowly deteriorated to the point where now it's not used for anything other than the yearly display. A fierce storm came through this year that uprooted some of the nearby trees, but the barn held on.

Cal Turner's barn

Other things of note from the barn. On the left is a portable light which will illuminate the barn some nights during the season. The animals in the painting are sheep and donkeys and one white Charolais cow, which used to bred on this farm and were known as "Cal's cows." The large radio tower which is about a mile away is the signal tower for WSM 650 AM, the legendary station which has been the "home of the Grand Old Opry." At the time of the tower's construction in the 1930's it was called the tallest radio tower in the world. I'd like to get a picture at night, but so far, the light hasn't been on any time I've driven by.

See it on the map HERE. If you live in the area and are thinking about seeing it for yourself, this really could be the last year it's up, and they could take it down the day after Christmas.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Changes and Preservation

C2hange happens. People move from the country to the city. Companies go out of business. Industries become less important. Traffic patterns change. Highways get more traffic than they can handle. In the case of Brown County, Ohio, two U.S. Highways change their route. Left behind is a Rock City barn that hasn't been updated in decades.

Some Rock City barns do not change for many decades


At some point, It was decided that since both U.S. Highways 62 and 68 are both going to Ripley, that they should be merged together and form one bigger highway to accommodate the rising traffic demands of both. A couple miles north of the town square in Georgetown, OH, U.S. 68 is routed to the east of town. Several miles down the road, it multiplexes with U.S. 62 and heads towards Ripley, OH. When it was just U.S. 62, the highway ran strait into Ripley and became Main St. However, with the increased traffic, the new highway runs mostly parallel with the old one and gets to Ripley a couple thousand feet on the east side. I am not sure when the change was made, but the oldest map I have of the area, made in 1966, doesn't reflect the update.

What do you see, when you drive the old main street out of Ripley along this once important road, but is now nothing more than a residential street? There's a run down vacant hotel. You see an abandoned gas station. It's mostly houses. The area is too hilly to have any kind of farmland, yet there is a barn. Perhaps a petter description would be a shed. This is the view you get when coming from the south. (The first thing you'd notice about this barn is the quilt pattern.)

Quilt pattern on the back of an old Rock City Barn

This barn is big enough for a good lawnmower. The land it's on isn't even flat. If you look closely at the first picture, the front center support as well as the front right corner is held up by a stack of rocks! It makes me wonder if the right half of this barn is even usable for anything.

Even more curious is something that made me take a second look when I was re-examining the pictures at home. The word Chattanooga is misspelled! The "n" is missing. The word there is Chattaooga. Is this a mistake? Quite possible, but you can't quite assume that either. There were stories of one of the Mail Pouch Tobacco barn painters who would intentionally misspell a word. He would wait to hear from the corporate office to see if any of the locals was paying attention and report the mistake. When the misspelling was (usually) reported, the painter would revisit the barn and repaint the word to correct it. Did that happen here? I don't know. Maybe "Chattanooga" wouldn't fit in the allotted space.

Street level view of a Rock City Barn

One final view of the barn to share is this view. When traveling southbound on old U.S. 62, this is the first look at the barn you'd get along the windy and hilly road. The top of the barn comes directly into view strait ahead. Then you drive over the top and the road veers to the left.

On, this is designated as #RCB 35-08-01.
In the Jenkins book, this is on page 81 (in the book in the 1995 picture, the weeds were so tall in front of the opening to the barn, it was probably difficult to get the mower out.)
To see it on a map, click Here.
Lat & Lon: 38 46.05oN \ 83 48.96oW

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Ohio Bicentennial Barns #1

T-rcbo commemorate Ohio's 200th year of statehood, they commissioned an Ohio Bientennial Barn project. For this project, a barn in each of Ohio's 88 counties as selected to have the bicentennial logo painted on it. Scott Hagan was the official logo painter, and painted the logo in every county, including this barn in Brown County.

Brown county's Ohio Bicentennial Barn

The original official website to Chronicle this project, is no longer active. However, a great website details each of the barns that was painted as part of the celebration. With this program, and more Mail Pouch Tobacco barns located there than any other state, Ohio likely has more painted ad barns than any other state.

This barn is located in southeast of the town of Ripley, OH along the Ohio River Scenic Byway (which is also the multiplex of U.S. 52, U.S. 62 and U.S. 68).

On, this barn is listed HERE.
See it on a map HERE.
Lat & Lon: 38.7237oN / -83.8288oW

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Well-worn Barn in Spencer, TN

Recently, my wife and I took a weekend excursion to see Fall Creek Falls. I wasn't expecting to see any Rock City barns that I hadn't seen before, mostly because I have driven through many of Middle Tennessee's backroads already. However, in the tiny town of Spencer, TN was this Rock City barn that has been worn to the point that the painted words are almost illegible. My wife looks at this picture and still doesn't believe it says anything. When the image is viewed full-size, some of the letters become barely visible.

Believe it or not, a Rock City Barn


That's the text I can make from this picture. Traditionally, "atop LOOKOUT MT." would be at the bottom level of the barn, but the barn is just too worn down to tell.

There's not much to do in Spencer, TN. Unless a person lives here, there's a rather good chance that most people here are driving on their way through to Fall Creek Falls State Park, like me. For a long time, there was only one highway into town, TN30. from the west, it starts at the road to McMinnville, winds its was up the mountain into Spencer, winds its way down into a valley and then back up to the top of another mountain up to the entrance to Fall Creek Falls. More recently, TN111, a newer strait 2-lane divided highway, was built through the town. Many people who go see the falls and are coming from the west now use TN111.

Spencer is the county seat of Van Buren County and is perhaps the smallest county seat in the state with a population just above 1,700. I was hoping to find a place to eat in Spencer, but did not see hardly any business at all. The old county courthouse is small and simple.

Van Buren County Courthouse - Spencer, TN

It shouldn't be a surprise that there are Rock City barns on TN30, signs advertising a tourist spot should be where the tourists are at. From here, you are less than 2 hours from Rock City. This barn is just a few hundred feet east of the intersection on-ramps of TN111. The nearest side street is Turkey Scratch Rd.

See it on a map HERE.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Fuston's Discount Variety Store

Fuston's Discount Variety Store barn

As you can see, the top lines are on a background of black, with the letters in white with a dark red shadow, with the bottom lines white in a dark red round-cornered rectangle.

This barn is located on Highway TN145, which is the quiet country road in Cannon County that runs from Woodbury to Auburntown. This painted advertisement barn, with roosters running around is located somewhere between the unincorporated towns of Brysonville and Hardscrabble. It's not far from a pretty neat goat farm.


I'm not sure, but I think I saw another barn for these people on US70 (not 70S) near Dowelltown. It would have been an ad for their second location in Smithville, TN.

I can't find any store named Fuston's Discount Variety Store, but there is a Fuston's Antiques. Best I can tell, this is a new location or a new retail business from the same owner or family. Fuston's Antiques of Woodbury is located on Main St., which is U.S. Highway 70S, across the street from the Cannon County Courthouse.

Cannon County Court House Woodbury Drug Center - Now Fuston's Antiques

Manchester Highway would be highway TN53, as it runs from Woodbury's city square to Manchester, the county seat of Coffee County. However, this highway is not labeled as the Manchester Highway anymore. In town, it is South McCrary St. and further from town it is the Jim Cummings Highway. Jim Cummings was a highly influential state senator and congressman from the late 1920's through the early 70's. The Manchester highway was renamed for him soon after his death in 1979. This likely means the barn was first painted 30 years ago or more.

See it on a map HERE.
Lat & Lon: 35.975329oN & -86.875329oW

Monday, July 09, 2007

A Very Faded Rock City barn on 31W

ometimes you can tell it's coming. When I drive down a major country highway like this, I always have a tendency to look behind me at every prime location of a barn we pass just to make sure I am not missing anything. Occasionally, I say to my wife, "That would make a good one" when I see a barn with a big side facing oncoming traffic. My wife humors me and nods. I noticed the huge roof on the north side of this barn, which make for the perfect sign for southbound traffic.

A very faded Rock City barn

The words I can definitely read say:

Chattanooga, Tenn.

Although I can't see it, usually there's an "Atop" before Lookout Mt. and a "near" before Chattanooga, Tenn.

My wife and I were driving North from Nashville to Louisville and we both like country driving instead of the interstates if time permits. One good section of highway we'd never taken was U.S. Highway 31W north of Cave City, Ky into Louisville. In the past, we had driven 31W from Cave City to Bowling Green as there are some other Rock City barns along that drive.

Most drives between two big cities have one major U.S. highway, but Nashville to Louisville have 2: 31E and 31W. Both are very old routes. 31E goes by Lincoln's Birthplace as Lincoln's parents and siblings lived along that route which many decades later became 31E. Dixie Highway, which was the major tourism route from Chicago to Miami in the dawn of auto travel in the 1920's in this area has become 31W.

Since we were driving North, if we were to spot a Rock City ad, we'd have to turn around to see it as they would only be useful for people going in the right direction. Most Rock City barns I know about before we get to it, based on other people's pictures online. There's also the most thorough collection in the Rock City Barns book by David Jenkins. However, if a barn appears in that book from about 12 years ago and it doesn't appear in someone's online collection, that often means it's gone. In this case, it just means that nobody else had spotted it and put it online.

A tough to read Rock City barn

This barn is in Hardin County, KY, but 31W through here serves as the border between Hardin and Larue counties. I-65 runs very close to 31W through here and can be seen not far away. This barn is about a mile south of the intersection with KY Highway 84.

In the Jenkins Book, this barn is on page 144-D
See it on a map Here.
Lat & Lon: 37.507419oN \ -85.882804oW

Sunday, July 01, 2007

6 Miles to Frisch's Big Boy

One of the more scenic drives out of Downtown Cincinnati is to drive east on U.S. Highway 52. This starts as Pete Rose Way by the Great American Ballpark, but becomes the Ohio River Scenic Byway, which is one of 99 National Scenic Byways designated by the U.S Department of Transportation. At one point, the road is known as Kellogg Rd., and a highlight is the famous Coney Island which opened as a theme park in 1887.

At some point, the highway needed to be widened and a large portion of U.S. 52 east of I-275 became a four-lane divided highway. Despite the widening, small stretches of the Old Kellogg Rd. still exist. On one of these stretches, just west of Eight Mile Road, hiding in the overgrowth is this barn painted to tell you how far Frisch's Big Boy Restaurant is.

6 Miles to Frisch's Big Boy

6 MILES TO Frisch's

The New Highway is literally 25 feet to the right of this barn. For whatever reason, the paint that has survived the best is under the beam in the middle and the white 6, outlined in black in the red circle has remained well, except for the wood that has been replaced.

6 miles...

Frisch's Big Boy is a chain of Drive-Ins with over 100 locations surrounding the first one in Cincinnati. Their signature advertising landmark is the boy statue at most of the locations. The boy, wearing red and white checkerboard overalls holds a round tray with a Big Boy, a double-decker burger. The specific Frisch's advertised here is still open in New Richmond, Oh.

There were several different Big Boy Franchisees around the country, such as Bob's, Kip's, Marc's, JB's and Eat N' Park. Out of all of these, only Frisch's kept the Big Boy name. Locally, I remember eating at a Big Boy when I was young as the regional franchisee was Shoney's Big Boy. In 1984, Shoney's dropped the Big Boy name but kept a similar menu so they could expand more throughout the south.

This stretch of old highway, which is currently a dead-end street is being considered for a bike trail. More info Here.
This barn is listed on as Advertising Barn #AdB35-31. The picture shown there was taken in the winter, making it possible to see all of the words.
The barn also appears on page 97 in the Simmonds book.
See it on a map HERE.
Lat & Lon: 39.035793oN \ -84.337387oW

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Old Rock City barn near Readyville, TN

Used to be a Rock City barn

Although you can't tell by looking at it, this used to be a Rock City barn, according to the David Jenkins book. It appears on page 156C.

This road is now called Murfreesboro Road, but it is also Old U.S. 70. This used to be the main road between Murfreesboro and Woodbury, TN. It is located in Cannon County about a mile east of Readyville.

When this was still the main highway, this barn was a great location for an advertisement barn. The road goes uphill and the top of this barn is seen not too far in the distance directly in front of street before it curves to the left of the barn. The large roof of the barn is directly facing the street before the curve, making a message there easy to read for passing motorists.

The Current U.S. 70 runs parallel to this street about a mile away. Like most of the newer highways, The John Bragg Hwy is a straiter four-lane divided highway. This four-lane widening project for the 18 miles from Woodbury to Murfreesboro took place in the early 1990's.

This stretch of Old highway has been a road for many years. In 1806, it was developed as the Stone's River road, then in 1811 it was the Old Stage Road. In the 1850's it was developed as the Murfreesboro-Woodbury Turnpike. Finally, it became U.S. 70S in 1923-24. In Readyville, there is an old Grist mill, built in 1829 which is still standing and on the National Register of historic places.

See the barn on a map HERE.
Lat & Lon: 35.818374oN \ -86.157516oW