Monday, June 22, 2020

On the Trail of the Elusive Rock City Barn

Rock City Barn, US. Highway 341, Glynn County, Georgia

Working with 35-year-old, often sketchy records and occasional hearsay reports as my only sources of information, finding Rock City barn sites was endlessly fascinating detective work.  Barns have burned, blown down, been bulldozed for highway construction and subdivisions, or simply fallen from disuse and disrepair, sagging silently into the soil. Many of the largest and finest barns are gone. To complicate things still further, highways have been changed, re-routed, and re-named. Sometimes the only way to locate a site was to find someone who remembered the property owner:

"Do you remember so-and-so, who had a place out on Highway 11 south of here?"

"Oh, yeah, knew him well. He and my daddy used to go fishing together all the time. Good ol' feller. He's dead now."

"Well, he had this barn on his farm, with a sign that said 'See Rock City.' Here's an old picture of it."

"Sure, I remember that ol' barn. Fact is, I helped him take it down, back around 1975. It had got all rotten and falling down, y'know. Wasn't safe."

I also learned to take the information I was given with a grain of salt.  The people most familiar with an area are often the least observant.  In Robbinsville, North Carolina on U.S. Highway 129 I asked a gas station attendant about a barn.  "Oh, sure," he said, "It was just down the road here, about a half mile.  But it's been torn down."  Checking for myself, I found his directions to the site were perfect.  But not only was the barn still standing, it had just been repainted and was one of the rare barns with "See Rock City" signs on both sides!

The barn pictured above took several hours to find. Searching along U.S. Highway 341 near Brunswick, Georgia, I went up and down the road numerous times. Someone had told me that the barn was "on the curve," but I couldn't find a curve. The road was straight. To compound the problem, a road crew was working on the highway and every time I went north or south I had to stop and wait for the flagman. Finally, I found someone who could tell me exactly where to look, which happened to be a small patch of woods about 50 yards from the roadwork. All I could see was a dense thicket. I parted the foliage with my hands and there it stood.

I later saw an old picture which showed that an earlier alignment of the highway ran almost to the front of the barn, then made a right-angle curve away. So that was "the curve."

 A lot can change in 35 or 40 years. But in compensation for the time lost looking for this barn, I got a photograph I really like at one of the places where I stopped to ask directions.

Manning Bros. General Merchandise, U.S. Highway 341, Glynn County, GA

(Photographs copyright David B. Jenkins 2020)

Soli Gloria Deo
To the glory of God alone

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