Tuesday, May 15, 2007

See Rock City

Everybody should see Rock City. Why? Located atop Georgia’s Lookout Mountain, just six miles from downtown Chattanooga, Rock City is a true marvel of nature and advertising.

It was started in the 1920s by the Carter family (Garnet and Frieda, not those other Carters). Garnet decided to develop a Lookout Mountain community that ended up including the first miniature golf course in the U.S. (The originally planned traditional golf course was way behind construction schedule so Garnet offered guests a “miniature” golf course. That turned out to be very popular and the Carters franchised the concept: Tom Thumb Golf.)

Meanwhile, Frieda set out to develop “a rock garden to end all rock gardens.” Today her vision has developed into a 4,100-foot trail along rock formations, caves and wonderful gardens with native plants.

However, situated on top of a mountain, Rock City was in an out-of-the-way location. To attract crowds, Garnet decided to advertise in a new medium. In 1936 Garnet Carter gave Clark Byers, a sign painter, a truck, some paint and a mission: paint "See Rock City" on barn roofs on highways from Michigan to Texas. According to a background of Rock City, “Clark Byers painted the barns for three decades and became a legend in his own right by braving bulls, slippery roofs and lightning bolts. When he retired in 1969, he had painted some 900 barns in 19 states.”

The Rock City barns became an American icon, but there’s truth in that advertising. The impressive views alone are worth the trip. From atop Lookout Mountain, visitors have a spectacular panorama of seven states: Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.

Rock City combines natural and man-made wonders. Plus, you can also buy a world-famous See Rock City birdhouse!

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