Wednesday, July 22, 2020

My First Rock City Barn

. . . and a minor miracle.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Bill Chapin, president of See Rock City, Inc. had confided in me his desire to do a book about the many old barns that carried the "See Rock City" message over the years. When he learned how much it might cost he shelved the idea, but I obtained a list of the barns they were still painting and determined I would make photographs whenever my business or personal travels took me near one.

In August, 1988, Louise and I went to southern Indiana for the annual Jenkins family reunion. Coming home, we took Indiana 37 from Bedford south to Paoli, then U.S. 150 east for five miles to photograph one of the barns on my list. From there, we would go on to Louisville where we would pick up Interstate 65 south.

This was a small barn, just a few feet from the highway. Actually, it was not much more than a shed, but I attacked it with my full armory of equipment. I was still using Olympus OM 35mm cameras in those days, and Hasselblad medium format cameras, plus various lenses for both. I made some photographs with the wide-angle lens on the Hasselblad, then exchanged it for a normal focal length -- carelessly standing the wide lens on its hood beside the road. Where I promptly forgot about it.

When we arrived home that night and I unpacked my photo equipment, I realized something was missing. A panicked phone call to my dad ensued. Lenses in general are not cheap, and Hasselblad lenses are particularly not cheap. Dad agreed he would go look for the lens first thing in the morning.

I didn't have much hope of ever seeing it again, but later that day I got a call from Dad. "There it was," he said, "Standing beside the road like a little soldier!"

As we passed by in following years we were sorry to see the little barn gradually sagging into the soil. By 2017 it was completely gone.

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(Photograph copyright David B. Jenkins 2020)

Soli Gloria Deo

To the glory of God alone



  1. Oh man. 150 from Paoli to the Ohio River is the only part of the Dixie Highway in Indiana that I've not driven. My last road trip to Paoli was before this barn had disintegrated entirely. Too bad I missed it.

  2. U.S. 150 from Paoli to Louisville is a lovely drive. When we're going to Bedford we usually take Indiana 60 to Mitchell, then 37 to Bedford, but usually take 37 to Paoli and 150 to Louisville when going home.

    There is another Rock City barn about ten miles east of Paoli, maybe a half-mile east of Hardinsburg. It's on a hill on the right and was there the last time we passed that way. It's on page 76 in the Rock City Barns book.