Rock City barn located on highway 411 near Cartersville, Georgia.
Camera: Kodak Z1012
By the time the Civil War reached the slopes of Lookout Mountain, more and more people had discovered what was already being called “the Rock City.” During the famous battle of Lookout Mountain, both a Union officer and a Confederate nurse speculated in separate diary entries that one could see seven states from atop the summit. Rock City remained well known to hikers and geologists throughout the latter portion of the 1800’s, but it would take the dawning of a new century before the fabulous Rock City would reach its full potential.
Rock City officially opened as a public attraction on May 21, 1932. It got off to a slow start, because advertising in those days was difficult; especially since Carter’s mountain-top attraction was not located in a place that people would just happen to be passing by and take notice. It was at this point another brilliant idea of Carter’s was born. He enlisted the help of a young sign painter named Clark Byers, who was hired to travel the nation’s highways and offer to paint farmer’s barns in exchange for letting them paint three simple words: See Rock City. The distinctive black-and-white signs appeared as far north as Michigan and as far west as Texas. The advertising soon began to produce the desired effect and, by the close of the 1930’s, more travelers than ever had seen Rock City Gardens.
1936 – Garnet Carter began his famous barn roof advertising campaign to lure vacationers from the highways. By the 1950’s Clark Byers had painted “See Rock City” on 900 barn roofs from Michigan to Texas.