February 22, 2004 by

Clark Byers


Categories: Artists

Clark Byers was not a famous artist, but his paintings were once displayed in 19 states.
In the mid-1930s, Byers was hired to climb atop a barn and paint the slogan: “See Rock City.” For the next three decades, he’d repeat the signage work on almost 900 barns and buildings, all advertising Rock City Gardens, a tourist attraction atop Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, Tenn. Byers did all the lettering freehand.
For tourists who passed the attraction, barns sporting “To miss Rock City would be a pity” signs were sure to come into view along Interstate 24. In exchange for turning barns into billboards, Byers gave farmers Rock City souvenirs or a couple of dollars. Then in 1968, he was nearly electrocuted during a thunderstorm. His injuries required almost a year of hospitalization and recovery, after which he made the decision to hand off touch-up jobs to younger men.
Byers worked in a cotton mill and bottled buttermilk before he was hired to entice motorists into visiting Rock City. After his cross-country painting stint ended, he ran the Sequoyah Caverns and Campground in Alabama, then retired to his Georgia farm where he occasionally painted signs for local churches or schools.
Byers died on Feb. 19. Cause of death was not released. He was 89.

3 Responses to Clark Byers

  1. Sara Armstrong

    To family and friends, how your loved one and “friend to the South” will be missed! I will think of him each time I look at my “Rock City” birdhouse and as I see his works up and down the highways. God bless you with peace and comfort and happy memories. Sara Holland Armstrong and family, Acworth, Georgia

  2. Clark

    Clark Byers was my great grandfather. A month before he died, I sent him a letter. In this letter, I asked about family history. This would be the last time that I would get to speak to him. Towards the end of January, I received a letter back. I am going to keep that letter for a while. This is going to be one of the soveingers that I am going to keep. I lived a thousand miles from him and the rest of my relatives. When I went to Georgia to visit my grandparents, I would always ask to go see Papa Clark. Luckily, I saw him during the summer and wrote him before he died.

  3. Richard Burnette

    Clark Byers and his work, have become cherished icons of good times past. It would delight us to come across one of his works. We will miss him!

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