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


Blogger Wally The Fish said...

I submitted several photos to the Western Kentucky people several years ago, but never saw the supposed brochure. Did it actually exist? My contributions were the Robertson County and Harrison Count barns and I also went looking for the Nicholas County barn, but couldn't find it. (Not that I've given up.)

2:18 PM, March 18, 2007  

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