Barn Artist Carries On Rural Advertising Tradition

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

In the late eighteen hundreds a group of six men were hired by Wheeling, West Virginia brothers Aaron and Samuel Bloch to advertise their tobacco product. Those men, who called themselves barn massagers, wall dogs and barn lizards, painted tobacco signs on barns located along busy roads in rural Ohio and West Virginia, which started a Nationwide trend for barn advertising.

At the height of the barn advertising’s popularity in the 1920’s through the ‘60’s, these men painted over 12,000 barns, and their iconic “Chew Mail Pouch Tobacco” logos became a familiar part of the rural landscape. In 1965 congress passed the Highway Beautification Act prohibiting signs and billboards within 660 feet of the road and many of these barns were painted over.

On this segment of County Lines, Producer Renee Wilde meets one man who is helping to resurrect this rural tradition.

Traffic is rushing along State Route 81 a few miles east of the city of Lima. Just a stones throw off this busy highway, Scott Hagan is using a small paintbrush to outline of the words ‘Welcome to Allen County’ across the side of a large red barn.

Hagan is known as the Barn Artist, and he just might be the one of the last remaining people carry on this rural tradition. Hagan never considered himself an artist growing up, and had no formal art training. One day when he was 19, he decided to paint a picture of the tasmanian devil on the side of his dad’s barn in Belmont County.

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