"...dazzling photographs...sometimes plaintive, sometimes playful...sometimes both at once." -- Jan Galletta, Chattanooga Free Press
"Jenkins' color photos are exquisite. His use of light and sky and rural touches... are intensely inviting..." -- Kurt Rheinheimer, Blue Ridge Country Magazine
"Who'd ever even think that a beautiful and heartfelt book could be made of photographs and tales about old signs..." -- Travel Books Worldwide
"Wonderful work...lively and sympathetic text...The photographs are breath-taking. A beautiful, evocative book. It delights and warms the heart." -- Comments by Benjamin Franklin Award judges
In a celebration of both regional history and outdoor advertising art, Jenkins' Rock City Barns provides an excellent visual catalog of hundreds of barns which sported the Rock City ad. Jenkins drove over 35,000 miles in a period of thirty years to capture these vanishing relics on film: over 500 sites in 15 states are captured in a fine, unique photographic odyssey. -- Midwest Book Review
From the Publisher
AWARD-WINNING BOOK TELLS STORY OF "SEE ROCK CITY" BARNS
Like most people who make history, Clark Byers had something else on his mind. When the young sign painter loaded his pickup with ladders and paintbuckets one day in 1936 and set out to persuade farmers to let him paint an advertising message on their barns, it would not have occurred to him that he would help define an era in American folk culture. But the 30-year odyssey which began that day made an unknown tourist attraction world famous, and the slogan "See Rock City" a household phrase.
Rock City Gardens, a 10-acre tract of spectacular rock formations on the cliffs of Lookout Mountain was opened to the public in 1932. But few tourists trekked up the mountain until Byers began roaming the land, blazoning his sign on every barn whose owner would allow it. The glory days of the barns were in the 50s and 60s, when as many as 900 were scattered from the Florida line to the Canadian border and from the Carolinas to Texas. The decline began when the rapidly expanding interstate system lured tourists away from the old routes and new laws restricted highway signs.
Nearly 60 years later photographer-writer David B. Jenkins borrowed Rock City's old records and traced Byer's footsteps in an 18-month, 35,000-mile quest to document every remaining barn. Visiting more than 500 sites in 15 states, he found 250 still-standing barns and culminated his odyssey with the publication of the highly acclaimed book Rock City Barns: A Passing Era. The beautifully-printed volume has earned major awards, including the coveted Benjamin Franklin Gold Medal and has been featured on CNN and in major newspapers.
In "exquisite" photographs and "warm and gentle" text, Mr. Jenkins captures not only the spirit of the barns, but also the spirit of an era. Reviewers have called Rock City Barns "A remarkable contribution to the folk culture of this country." Anyone who remembers the days of two-lane highway travel will find it hard to put down. Nostalgia may not be what it used to be, but these photographs show us that sometimes the past can be even better than we remembered.