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Clark Byers, at 89; painted barns with 'See Rock City' slogan

ATLANTA -- Clark Byers, who painted Southern barns with a "See Rock City" slogan that was perhaps better known than the attraction itself, died Thursday. He was 89.

The Trenton, Ga., resident had been in failing health for several months, friends said.

For three decades beginning in 1937, Mr. Byers braved slippery roofs and even a charging bull to paint about 900 barns in 19 states, mainly in the rural South. He was once nearly electrocuted when a power line fell on a metal barn roof he was painting.

Using black paint that he said was virtually fade-free, he painted the barns for free for willing farmers, throwing in Rock City souvenirs as a bonus. The slogans, including "See Rock City" and "To miss Rock City would be a pity," promoted a collection of buildings atop of Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, Tenn., that were constructed from the mountain's stone.

The signs marked a milestone in the US tourism history, said Bill Chapin, president of See Rock City Inc. "Clark Byers was instrumental in creating a lasting legacy for Rock City Gardens and in implementing Garnet Carter's marketing genius," Chapin said. "Clark, literally and figuratively, enhanced the landscape of America."

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