Monday, July 27, 2020

The Lost Barns of Rock City

My first "lost" Rock City barn. A few miles north of Seymour, Indiana on U.S. 31.

For New Year's 1995, Louise and I made a quick trip to see my parents in southern Indiana. Naturally, I took with me the old file cards with Rock City barn locations. On January 2nd, my Dad and I set out to see what we could find in south central Indiana.

The first one we found was on U.S. Highway 231, a few miles north of Spencer. We checked out several other sites, but the barns were apparently long gone. Traveling south on U.S. 31 a few miles north of Seymour, suddenly Dad said "There's one!"

"Can't be," I said. " It's not in my file cards."

"Well, that may be," he said, "but there it is. I saw it."

Finding a place to turn around, we went back for another look. There it indeed was, with the sign looking in good condition. As we pulled into the farmyard, the owner came out to meet us. As we explained our interest in his barn, he told us that he had bought the property only recently, and that the end of the barn that faced Highway 31 had been covered in sheet metal. He decided to remove the metal, and under it found a well-preserved "See Rock City" sign.

Until that day, I had no idea that there were Rock City barns still standing that had been lost from Rock City's records. I later learned that whenever the paint crew stopped painting a barn for any reason, they simply removed the file card and threw it away. I went on to find 20 more "lost barns" while in the process of looking for the ones for which I had records.

Actually, I passed a "lost barn" on the south side of Sweetwater, Tennessee on October 25, 1994 -- my first full day on the barn book project. The sign was faded and the light was wrong for good readability. Since I had no file card for it and did not yet know of the existence of barns not in Rock City's records, I drove on by.

And the most recent. November, 2019. U.S. Highway 43, Ethridge, Tennessee.

After Rock City Barns: A Passing Era was published, I began receiving letters from people who knew of barns that had not been included in the book. I made every effort to photograph them and now have about 50. Enough for a book. I hope Lost Barns of Rock City will soon be a reality.

So, if you happen to know a publisher who might be interested . . .

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(Photographs copyright David B. Jenkins 2020)

Soli Gloria Deo

To the glory of God alone

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