Sunday, December 24, 2006

How a Barn Changes in 20 years

Manyany Rock City barns haven't changed much over the years. It's true that a large percentage of the estimated 900 that were around during their glory years are gone. Barns, in general, aren't as necessary as they used to be. If a barn has collapsed, there may not be a need to build a replacement. However, the Rock City Barn owners are do what they can to preserve their barns even when the barn is not in service any more. In many cases, their owners will go to greater lengths to save their barns when a normal barn that is starting to crumble would be complete removed. Here, however, is a well-maintained barn that will hopefully be around for a long time.

Click photo to enlarge


Of curious note, the r in FrOM is not capitalized.

About 20 years ago, talented Americana artist Ray Day created a series of 4 paintings of advertising barns which were converted into collectible plates by Blue River Mill Publishing Company. The series was called as "Once Upon a Barn" and each plate was serially numbered to 5000. Barn #2 in the series was the same barn as shown above. Here is the plate:

See Rock City plate

The back has this inscription: This old barn was located along old Highway 31E, just south of Hodgenville, KY.

The other barns in the series are: 1) a Mail Pouch Tobacco barn in Nashville, IN. 3) a Meramec Caverns barn off I-65 in Uniontown, IN. 4) a Coca-Cola Barn in Park City, Ky. These barns are not for sale new any more, but you can see pictures of them on Ray Day's website HERE or learn more about his work in general HERE. These plates do occasionally appear on ebay, if you'd like one.

I am not certain how close to reality he was in his painting, meaning I am not sure if he took artistic liberties when painting this or if his intention was complete accuracy. The most notable difference is that now there is not a road that goes by the barn and passes it on the right. Since there is no road, there is no lining of it with trees and a fence. If those are windows on the left, they now appear to be gone, but the unpainted door on the right and the red roof have not changed.

Highway U.S. 31E is an old highway, being for many years the primary route between Nashville and Louisville. Abraham Lincoln's birthplace and boyhood home at Knob Creek farm are not far from here and were located along this route, which was in use back then. Eventually, an alternate route was created, 31W which goes by the popular destinations near Mammoth Cave and Bowling Green. Both routes have remaining barns, many of which will eventually be featured in my blog. Interstate 65 has been built, cutting traffic for both routes. 31E still had enough traffic that a new street had to be paved, but the places this happens does closely parallel the old street, and I saw a few patches of the old heavily cracked and worn pavement. As seen from my photo, the newer highway runs 50 feet to the left of the barn.

About 10 years ago, the Kentucky Department of Tourism created a website and sponsored a small contest to find all of the Rock City barns that still survived in the state. The submissions were then converted to a brochure. You can't submit info any more, and the site hasn't been updated in years, but all of the old photos still remain, including one for this barn which you can see HERE. from that photo, you can see the trees which lined the old highway decades ago obscured the view a decade ago, but not now.

Another view, slightly newer than the last one, is from Ohiobarns, which lists this as #RCB 17-50-01
in The Jenkins Book, on page 114.
See it on a map HERE. It's in Hart County, just a couple of streets south of the Larue County line.
Lat & Lon: 37.4140 oN \ -85.7580 oW

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Buffalo, White Deer and Rock City

Onene of the attractions at Rock City is the White Fallow Deer. Sequoyah Caverns is another nearby attraction to feature these animals. Sequoyah Caverns has been mentioned in this blog often because of Clark Byers, the original Rock City barn painter. When he retired from Rock City, he opened up the Caverns commercially in the late 1960's he painted a few barns for them, also. This barn is one example.

Click Photo to Enlarge

Time has not been kind to this barn as it looks like it is slowly starting to crumble, but it probably has at least a decade left. At one time it was a Rock City barn and some of those letters show through. The original message is:


Due to its close proximity to Sequoyah Caverns, the message was changed to:


To the left of these words was a large red outlined-in-white arrow pointing to the left. The metal roof on the far left has been replaced within the last 10 years.

This barn is visible when traveling northbound on Interstate 59 in Dekalb Co., Al. County Road 731 runs just behind this barn, then crosses over the interstate here. There is not an interstate exit here, but if you follow the signs, you would take the next exit, and then back-track for about 5 miles on U.S. 11 until you get to this barn, which was featured on this blog earlier:

Click Photo to Enlarge

This marks the turn onto CR-731, which then crosses over the interstate and behind the barn and you're a few hundred feet from the entrance. This is the back of the barn.

Click Photo to Enlarge.

Oddly enough, I saw the back of this barn a couple of months before I saw the front. I thought an important barn was here and I kept trying to read any painted words on this back side. There's probably nothing here and you can't see this side from the interstate.

White fallow deer is an interesting similarity between the two attractions, however the ones at Rock City are more famous, as evidenced by this post card from 1939:

White Fallow Deer at Rock City Post Card

These days, you're not allowed to get this close to them, but you view them from above, such as in this picture:

Rock City's White Deer

Sequoyah Caverns still has white deer, but must not have any buffalo any more. The Ellis family, which owns the Caverns also maintain a working farm. They also have horses, goats and sheep.

Click Photo to Enlarge

This is the second barn I've featured which used to be a Rock City barn and was repainted with an ad for another tourist attraction. The other is this Ruby Falls Barn in Tennessee.
In the Jenkins book on page 131-F.
See it on a map HERE.
Lat & Lon: 34.656823o N \ -85.605893o W

Monday, December 04, 2006

Merry Christmas

See Rock City ornament

The Rock City Christmas Ornament is exactly what I would expect. My wife put the tree up within the last week.