Monday, February 12, 2024

How Green Was My Valley

 A disguised Rock City barn north of Manchester, Coffee County, Tennessee.

When I first saw this barn on May 25, 1995, the words that immediately came to my mind were "How Green Was My Valley," the title of a book published in 1939 and made into a movie in 1941. Just about everything was green. The hillside, the trees, even the roll  of hay. Everything except the cattle and the Ruby Falls sign. Even the barn boards had a bit of greenish mold.

Strange as it may seem, not all Rock City's barns were faithful to their painter.  This barn, nine miles north of Manchester, Tennessee is one of two turncoats I found which had transferred their allegiance to Ruby Falls, another Lookout Mountain tourist attraction. 

But the change was not permanent. Returning from a trip north around 2005, I got off Interstate 24 at the north end of Manchester and went north to see how the barn had fared. I found that the Ruby Falls sign had worn completely away and the original Rock City sign was quite visible. I took pictures, but to my shame, I can't find them. 

In November, 2019, my friend the distinguished graphic artist, photographer, and teacher Michael Largent and I went out to make some photographs for my "Lost Barns" project. On a whim, we took a little detour to check out this barn. Approaching it from the south, I saw something I had not seen before: on its southern side was a sign for Meramec Caverns, an attraction near Stanton, Missouri which has many signs on barns in the Southeast and Midwest.

A Meramec Caverns sign hiding on the south side of the barn.

The little valley is no longer green, and the old barn is sagging. Time will be the ultimate master of us all. But I like to do what I can to preserve the memory of these relics of mid-20th century roadside culture.

(The top photo was made with a Canon EOS A2 film camera with the Canon EF 28-105mm lens and Fujichrome 100 film. The bottom photo was made with a Fuji X-T20 digital camera with the Fujicron XC 16-50mm lens.

Signed copies of my book Backroads and Byways of Georgia are available. The price is $22.95 plus $4.50 shipping. My PayPal address is (which is also my email). Or you can mail me a check to 8943 Wesley Place, Knoxville, TN 37922. Include your address and tell me how you would like your book inscribed.

Check out the pictures at my online gallery:  Looking is free, and you might find something you like.

Photography and text copyright 2024 David B.Jenkins.

I post Monday, Wednesday, and Friday unless life gets in the way.

Soli Gloria Deo -- For the glory of God alone.

Tags:   photography     Rock City barns     film photography     film cameras    Canon EOS A2     Canon EF 28-105mm lens      Fujichrome 100 film     Fuji X-T20 digital camera     Fujicron XC 16-50mm lens