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.


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