Monday, July 31, 2006

65 Miles to Rock City

f you are looking for a bargain in August, you might spot this Rock City barn. The World's Longest Garage Sale occurs every year along U.S. Highway 127. With a distance of over 400 miles, the sale runs along the stretch of U.S. 127 from Cincinnati to Chattanooga, usually in the first weekend in August. If you have something to sell, there are many good places to do so along the route (preferably at one of the key stops along the way where there is a flat section along the side of the highway and not along one of the winding parts or in someone else's yard). If you are looking to buy, many people will drive from one end to the other. When you go, this is something you will see. Learn more from the Sale's website.

Located in Bledsoe County, this barn is about 8 miles north of Pikeville, the county seat. On your map, it will appear near the town of Ninemile, TN. This stretch of U.S. 127 has replaced the old William Howard Taft and Alvin York Highway (Old TN 28) in the Sequatchie Valley. This well-maintained barn has been owned by the Fields family for nearly 60 years. In the year since I took this picture and uploaded it to my account, the Flickr computers have calculated this as my "most interesting" Photo.

65 Miles to Rock City

ROCK CITY designates this as #RCB-42-04-01 (In their 2003 photo, it hadn't been recently painted and it looked more run down.)
In the Jenkins book, it appears on page 30.
In the Capps book, it's barn #30.
In the Simmons Book, on Page 76.
You can see it on a map HERE.
Lat&Lon: 35o42'38.50"N / 85o06'25.74"W
My picture has been used HERE.
Another view taken in 2003 by "abone1" on Webshots

Sunday, July 30, 2006

The First Rock City Barn - Nashville, Tn

here should be no surprise that the first Rock City Barn I would look for would be the closest one to where I live. It's the only one in Davidson County, Tn (where Nashville is) but in a place I had never been. The Clarksville Highway, designated as U.S. Highway 41A, runs from Clarksville to Nashville through the Northwest side of the county. If you follow it long enough, 41A will take you up to Monteagle, where it merges with the original U.S. 41 and progresses to Chattanooga. The road is much less traveled now by long distance motorists as the highway runs parallel with Interstate 24.

The barn is just across the Cheatham County line, and would be easy to miss if you weren't looking for it. It is on the left side of the street if you are heading south, and there is a line of trees blocking the view of it, making it difficult to see until you are about to pass it. Obviously, the paint has faded as it has not been redone in years. Ironically, it is not located along the stretch of the "Old Clarksville Highway." Someone more familiar with the history of roads in the area may know when the newer stretch was developed.

Nashville-Davidson Co. Rock City Barn


To see another view of this barn, on the page of Nashville taken by Jan Duke, Look Here.
On, this is designated as #RCB 42-19-01
In the Jenkins book, it is located on page 157 (bottom right).
You can see its location on a map, HERE.
Lat & Lon: 36o19'26.95" N/86o54'47.02" W

Saturday, July 29, 2006

How I became interested in these Barns

Many people have told me, "When I was a child, I remember riding in the back of the car and going past the one on highway XX often."

They're spotted all over the countryside. I suppose I saw them, too, but there's not any specific barn that I can definately remember. I have lived in Nashville most of my life and I have always been interested in roads. There's a good chance I saw one on the family's drive to Gatlinburg or Louisville. What I do remember was seeing all of their billboards along Interstate 24 going to Chattanooga, especially once you drive past Monteagle. The signs are still there but they don't look like they used to.

There are many of these barns, but not as many as there used to be. Back in the day, there were over 900 of them painted by Rock City's barn painter Clark Byers. The combination of his retirement and the 1968 Highway Beautifcation Act has reduced their number. There arestill some barns that are painted and maintained by the current painters, but many older ones are crumbling or rusty

My wife and I both enjoy to drive the highway backroads. Plus, I have taken up the hobby of photography. We have driven many routes in the south. When I bought the Jenkins book at the Rock City gift shop in 2003, it must have unlocked something in me. Maybe it's the thought that any of these could be gone tommorrow, or maybe it's the feeling of accomplishement for each one I find, but there is a hope that every time I travel out of town I can claim another one for my own photo collection.

As of today, I have found nearly 40 Rock City Barns, and so more for other advertisements. By the time I get all of them posted (and it will take me a while), perhaps I will have dozens more.

Resources used by this blog's author

There are a couple of websites and three books which are helpful in finding and learning about Rock City and other barns. Unfortunately barns crumble or are removed all the time and any of these can be out of date, including my information.

Website #1: The official Rock City website.

Here you can see what all the buzz is all about, learn the history of Rock City, Buy a souvenir and see pictures of some of the barns from the David Jenkins book below.

Website #2:

They are a wealth of information, all submitted by users of the website. They have a page on Rock City Barns. Generally if a barn is listed there, it was photographed in the last 5 years and is still around, but not always. They also have well done pages on Mail Pouch Tobacco, soft drink ads and much more. Each barn has its own page with a photo, the general location and is labeled in a format like: RCB 42-19-01 (A Rock City Barn in State 42, Tennessee, County 19, Davidson, and is the 1st barn in that county).

Book #1: Rock City Barns: A Passing Era by David Jenkins

A great book where in the mid 1990's the author traveled the countryside with the Rock City's disorganized notes in an effort to find as many of the remaining barns as possible. A very worthwhile book.

Book #2 See Rock City Barns: A Tennessee Tradition by Anita Armstrong Capps

In the mid-90s, the author went to each of the barns in Tennessee that were still maintained by the Rock City painters and gave the story of the barn's owners, as well as a lovely portrait of that barn

Book #3: Advertising Barns by William Simmonds

Another good barn book, but focuses on all types of advertising barns.

Maps: For maps, I use which is the Microsoft equivalent of Google Maps. Both website have similar features, and Google's is easier to use. You can see an aerial photo of the location, or just a map, or both at the same time. I use Microsoft's here for two reasons. 1) has a permalink feature which makes it convenient to link in this blog. 2) While Google's imagery is in color, they do not have color photos for many rural areas, instead using very poor resolution satellite imagery. Microsoft has adapted their website from their old Terraserver website with of their USGS images. They are all black and white, but it is good resolution everywhere, although some areas might not have been rephotographed in 15 years. (by the way, Google Earth is the still about the coolest program ever. That is where I get my Latitude & Longitude info from.)

Created: July 29, 2006
100 Hits: Sept. 2, 2006

200 Hits: Nov 10, 2006

A Geographically Sorted Index

This is a list of all barns profiled in this blog, Sorted geographically by state and county:


DeKalb: Buffalo, White Deer and Rock City
DeKalb: How Far to New York or New Orleans on U.S. 11?
DeKalb: Remember When...?
DeKalb: Being From The South...


Dade: Proof that new Rock City barns get painted
Dade: Crumbling barn with multiple advertisements
Walker: The Birdhouse Barn near Rock City


Hardin: A Very Faded Rock City Barn on 31W
Hart: How a Barn Changes in 20 years
Marion: What Does a Newer Rock City Barn Look Like?
Pulaski: See 7 States - along the old route
Simpson: A Barn, Corn, and a state border irregularity


Brown: Ohio Bicentennial Barn #1
Brown: Changes and Preservation
Hamilton: 6 Miles to Frisch's Big Boy


Bedford: Crumbling Barn on U.S. 41A
Bledsoe: 65 Miles to Rock City
Cannon: Old Rock City barn near Readyville, TN
Cannon: Fuston's Discount Variety Store
Cheatham: Double Cola Barn along River Road
Coffee: See Ruby Falls and Meramec Caverns
Coffee: Wonder Cave barn
Coffee: See Ruby Falls on Interstate 24
Cumberland: Some Rock City Barns are tough to see
Davidson: The First Rock City Barn - Nashville, Tn
Lincoln: It Costs Less at Sterchi's
Marion: The Rock City Barn I missed several times
Roane: STAY ON TN58 and SEE... --- UPDATE
Roane: Millions Have Seen this Rock City Barn
Robertson: Has anyone ever painted Rock City on their own barn?
Rutherford: When is a Rock City Barn not a Barn?
Sevier: See Beautiful Rock City TO-DAY
Van Buren: The Well-worn barn in Spencer, TN
Williamson: Christmas Barn at Cal Turner's Farm


Merry Christmas
A Rock City Ceramic Plate
Tray Featuring Jim Harrison's Artwork

Would anyone find it helpful if I added thumbnails of the pictures along with the titles?
Someday, I hope to be able to embed a map with clickable links to each barn.