Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Beverly Blankenship

Beverly Blankenship and his Rock City barn.

Beginning at Nags Head, North Carolina, U.S. Highway 64 was, in the days before interstates, a major east-west corridor across the mid-south, finally terminating in Arizona. It happened to pass through Chattanooga, Tennessee, so naturally there were barns carrying the familiar "See Rock City" logo all along its route.

Crossing the broad coastal plain and up onto the Piedmont Plateau, U.S. 64 begins snaking its way through the western North Carolina mountains south of Asheville, climbing to more than 4,000 feet at Highlands, and, when I first came there in 1957 to see my then-girlfriend, actually passing under and behind Bridal Veil Falls on the western descent from the town.

All that has changed, of course, and many sections of Highway 64 have been rerouted and improved. On May 17, 1995, when I came through the area looking for Rock City barns, following the directions on the old file cards the barn painters had used, I found myself east of Hayesville, North Carolina on a long-abandoned stretch of old 64, looking at a farmhouse and a Rock City barn, its sign still in remarkably good condition, on a small hill dead ahead. The road ran almost up to the farmhouse before curving left and away.

Since the place appeared to be occupied, I knocked on the farmhouse door. And that's how I met Beverly Blankenship, a spry 82-year-old whose barn may be getting a bit ramshackle, but who still enjoys driving his pickup to the Senior Citizens Center to take "them old folks" to the store to buy their groceries.

This barn at Mocksville is the best preserved of the Rock City
barns on U.S. 64 east of the Blankenship barn near Hayesville.
(Both photographs with Canon EOS A2 cameras, Fujichrome RDP 100 film.)

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(Photographs copyright David B. Jenkins 2020)

Soli Gloria Deo

To the glory of God alone

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