For over 80 years, the See Rock City barns have been a staple of the American landscape. These iconic barns, with their bold white-on-black signs, have lured travelers from all over the world to a spot near Chattanooga, Tennessee, where they can “See Rock City.“
The barns were the brainchild of Rock City founder Garnet Carter. In the 1930s, Carter was looking for a way to promote his attraction to motorists driving along the nearby highways. He came up with the idea of painting barns with the See Rock City message, and it was an instant success.
The barns were painted by Clark Byers, a sign painter who was hired by Carter. Byers painted over 900 barns in 19 states, and his work helped to make See Rock City one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country.
The See Rock City barns are far more than just advertising billboards. They are also a beautiful piece of American history. They represent a time when the automobile was a new and exciting invention, and when Americans were eager to explore the open road.
The barns are also a reminder of a simpler time. They are a symbol of a time when people were more connected to their rural roots, and when the beauty of the natural world was something to be appreciated. Today, the See Rock City barns are still standing, but they are a dwindling number. Many of the barns have been painted over or demolished, and the few that remain are in danger of disappearing altogether.
It is important to preserve the See Rock City barns for future generations. They are a part of our history, and they are a reminder of a time when America was a different place.
See Rock City Barns 90th Anniversary
visiting a huge piece of Americana is a great thing, but actually having the privilege of helping to restore a See Rock City barn sign is another! Molly and I had the absolute pleasure of putting brushes and white paint to work and took part in painting the “today” cursive area of the roof of one of them.
Located on Highway 411 just north of the intersection of Georgia Route 140, this roadside gem has been in the hands of property owners Tim and Robin Ward since 2017, who have fully embraced the barn’s notoriety.
“Everyone in the Rydal area knows the barn as a landmark from their childhood or when they first moved to the area – it is how they also learned about Rock City,” Ward said, adding that it is not uncommon to see cars park along the road to get a good picture, which he enjoys. “We have had several amateur and professional photographers stop by – two just last week, one from Louisiana; in addition to people taking prom and homecoming pictures.”
This historic barn is the latest to be painted in Rock City’s multi-state barn roof restoration project this spring. The objective has been to preserve the most cherished barn signs that helped put Rock City and Lookout Mountain on the map in an era before billboard advertising. In the last few weeks, painters have completed barns in Fort Payne, Alabama, Crossville and McEwen, Tennessee, Murphy, North Carolina and LaFayette, Georgia.
Here Are Some Easy Things You Can Do to Help Preserve the See Rock City Barns
- Visit the barns and take a picture. This will help to document their existence and spread the word about their importance.
- Contact your local government and ask them to pass laws that protect historic barns.
- Donate to organizations that are working to preserve historic barns.
By taking these steps, we can help to ensure that the See Rock City barns will continue to stand for many years to come.
Some Additional Fun Facts about the See Rock City Barns
- The first See Rock City barn was painted in 1935.
- Clark Byers painted over 900 barns in 19 states.
- The barns were a popular tourist attraction in the 1950s and 1960s.
- Many of the barns have been painted over or demolished.
- Only a few of the barns remain today.
- The See Rock City barns are a part of American history.
- They are a reminder of a simpler time.
- It is important to preserve the See Rock City barns for future generations.