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Friday, October 24, 2008


I think of our country as a museum for all to enjoy.

Everywhere you look there is something waiting to be observed and to learn from. Whether it is a carved rock on a hillside, beautiful herons, arrowheads left behind by Native Americans, or painted barns that are a colorful part of our landscape.

In 1890 the Bloch Brothers, owners of Mail Pouch Tobacco, decided to take their advertising to the outdoors.

They looked about and decided barns were the obvious location for advertising.

The farmers got a free paint job, sometimes a small cash settlement and free samples.

The barns were painted free hand. Harley Warrick was the most recognizable painter of the barns. By the time of his death in 2000 he had painted or repainted some 20,000 barns, give or take a few. He started painting for Mail Pouch fresh out of the army in 1946. He and a helper painted 2 barns a day, 6 days a week for a weekly salary of $32.

He helped to preserve and create a piece of vanishing Americana.

The slogan “Chew Mail Pouch Tobacco Treat Yourself to the Best” dominated barn sides until the 1960s, when the ban on tobacco ads and the 1965 Federal Highway Beautification Act, which prohibited advertising within 660 feet of federal highways, helped put a stop to the painting. The campaign officially ended in 1969.

In 1974 congress excluded “landmark signs adorning farm structures or natural surfaces, or of historic or artistic significance” from the 1965 law.

But, today the Mail Pouch Barns are becoming rare. Every year a few more succumb to the elements. They are made of fading paint and aged lumber and are slowly fading into America’s history.

Here is a barn located down the road from my house, I get to see this piece of Americana almost daily.

Here is a barn located on Rt. 2 going toward Pt. Pleasant, WV

There are many sites on the internet about the Mail Pouch Barns; here is one with lots of articles and pictures.

For more pictures of Mail Pouch Barns go to my other post here.

Are there any of these barns in your area?


  1. I love these old barns. There are a lot of them in Pendleton, Hardy & Hampshire Counties. I remember loving to watch for barns whenever we'd travel down the Potomac Valley. Many of these are gone now. Sad.


  2. I had never heard of these barns...just knew about the Rock City ones and Ruby Falls...this was very interesting! Glad you shared the photographs and the information with us. Yes, we can learn SO MUCH by all this is around us! I love it.

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  4. Is the leaning barn still there I wonder.


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