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Picture of the day - September 15, 2006

Shady Valley School

The historic rock school in Shady, Valley, Tennessee.
Click photo to enlarge

The beautiful and historic Rock School in Damascus, Virginia is well-known among the countless thousands of hikers and tourists who have visited the small town over the years, but most of them probably don't know that a similar rock school building is located just a few miles down the road in scenic Shady Valley, Tennessee!

Inscription on the rock school in Shady Valley, TN.Shady Valley School was built in 1936, and like most public buildings of that era it has an interesting story behind it. Times were hard back then, so President Franklin Delano Roosevelt created a new government agency via executive order called the Works Progress Administration (WPA).

The mission of the WPA was to create several million new jobs for the nation's unemployed. The men on the WPA payroll built new public roads, parks and buildings all across the nation - two of which are the Backbone Rock National Recreation Area and the Shady Valley School.

Unlike the Damascus Rock School which was built using "river rock" from the town's streams and rivers, the school in Shady Valley was constructed using rocks from local fields and farms and beautiful wormy chestnut lumber. It was a great deal for everyone involved - the community got a much-needed school building while the farmers got rid of many of the troublesome field stones that made it difficult to farm their land.

Shady Valley's rock school building is still in use today as the local elementary school, and hopefully it will remain in use as such for a long, long time. It would certainly be a shame if it were to ever be abandoned and used as a barn and pigpen like historic Liberty Hall in neighboring Washington County, Virginia. It is my hope that the good citizens of Johnson County, TN will continue to realize the historic and nostalgic significance of Shady Valley School and keep it alive and well for succeeding generations to use and enjoy.

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