While riding in North Carolina and Tennessee last fall, I saw three See Rock City barns – one of which was entirely serendipitous.
Isn’t it funny how that happens? Something becomes of interest to you and it begins to show itself in unexpected places – sometimes on a path which you’ve already trod. Maybe my dad was right, water rises to its own level. Do we become magnets for things? Do we disperse our energy into the world and watch it fall like glitter on the air, dusting those things that are supposed to sparkle for our attention?
This Rock City barn in Grainger County, Tennessee was gorgeous. I was graced with a big blue sky, vibrant red barn, and green grass just waving in the wind. Seeing this baby was like being inside of a postcard.
On my way north along Calderwood Highway heading to Marysville, Tennessee, I passed this Rock City Barn. I’d had a vague recollection of seeing it several years before on a trip with friends to the Dragon.
This super-fade was a stone throw from where I saw one of those menacing Giant Chicken Army soldiers in Robbinsville, North Carolina. One minute you’re contemplating your next move in a global war game against fowl beasts and the next thing you know, BAM! Rock City Barn. Life is nothing if not mysteriuos.
Interested in seeing some barns yourself? Well, you’re in luck. The Rock City website happens to have a location map for ya.
One of the stars on my Google Map that was close to where I stayed one night in Tennessee, was the old Underwood & Petty service station in Strawberry Plains. I’m not sure where I first saw a picture of the old station. It may have been something in my Instagram feed. Shunpikers, roadtrippers and backroad ramblers are great sources for this sort of thing. But I suppose the where I saw it is immaterial when the why I saved it is obvious.
But there is the other why. Why would I ride with a purpose to lay eyes on a crumbling old facade? I can’t buy it, fix it, save it. I can’t stop time. What is the purpose of going to see it or any of the other ghost stations I might visit?
The facade of the Pal’s Sudden Service chain has to be one of the best around. Normally I wouldn’t say such things in polite company but, look at that huge wiener!
Back in 2012, when Kenny and I were heading towards the Shady Valley Country Store on TN 421 (The Snake) we happened to zip past a Pal’s. As you might imagine, I couldn’t resist stopping.
At the time, I had no idea that it was a chain. In fact, there are 29 different Pal’s locations. There’s a Pal’s in Johnson City, Tennessee. That joke writes itself.
The Pal’s in Kingsport, Tennessee does not have a huge wiener but we won’t hold that against them. What is does have is a hamburger-holding mufflerman on the roof. I’d say that makes up for it. He’s a bit on the pale side, don’t you think? Even so, he was good company as I enjoyed my burger and “frenchie fries” outside on the patio.
During the time in which I’ve been aware of the station, it went from a crumbling shadow of its former self to the glimmering sheet metal beauty that it is today. That happened thanks to the efforts of some very dedicated people.
For some, it’s hard to justify or to allocate the funds to spend money on saving Americana landmarks. I bet a lot of people are interested in helping but hope or assume someone else will do it. That makes me all the more appreciative that people are able to pool their resource and give the time and dedication to make it happen.
“Airplane Filling Station [ca. 1931] taken by Robin Thompson. The Airplane Filling Station was built in 1929 by Henry and Elmer Nickle, located on Clinton Highway (near Callahan Road), Knox County, TN. Texaco gasoline.”
“The Airplane Filling Station was built in 1929 by Henry and Elmer Nickle (pictured), located on Clinton Highway (near Callahan Road), Knox County, TN. Texaco gasoline.”
Though I had jotted Backbone Rock down on my list of things to see when we left home, sometimes the wind takes you elsewhere.
In the days and miles that had already passed it had slipped my mind until we were headed west away from Shady Valley. That was when the lightbulb went off in my head. Doh! I wanted to see Backbone Rock! I resigned myself to doing it “next time.”
While Kenny and I were zig-zagging around, I started poking through my GPS and looking at the pit stop waypoints that I’d saved. As it turned out, Backbone Rock was just a hop skip and a jump ahead.
There it was ~ the Universe unfolding as it should, again.
When I read other blogs, I really appreciate it when folks take the time to tell you what the name of or where a place is. It can be awfully frustrating at times to do the detective work on your own. If you’re one of those folks who shares their cool stuff – thank you!