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Antique Barn at Barkcamp

A 19th-century barn still stands in its original location near the campgrounds at Barkcamp State Park. The barn was built by Major Solomon Bentley (1785-1865). Major Bentley was a veteran of the War of 1812 as well as an acclaimed orchardist.  He is known for originating the “Bentley Sweet,” known as a good, sweet apple and an incredible keeper.  The campground sits on the former site of Major Bentley’s orchard. His barn is now the Antique Barn and Nature Center.


The Mail Pouch Tobacco logo on the Antique Barn was painted by Harley Warrick, a native of Belmont County. He spent 55 years painting or retouching an incredible 20,000 barns. These giant billboards can still be seen throughout the country. Warrick was quoted as saying, “The first 1,000 were a little rough, and after that you got the hang of it.” He averaged two to three barns a day, six days a week, for the first 20 years of his career. 


The Highway Beautification Act of 1965 put an end to advertising within 660-feet of an interstate highway.  Nearly all sign painters went out of business, but Warrick continued painting barns along smaller roads and highways. In 1974, an amendment passed that allowed signs with artistic or historic significance.  This included the Mail Pouch signs, and Warwick could continue to paint the Mail Pouch Tobacco logo on barns.


In October 2000, Warrick retouched his last barn, the Antique Barn at Barkcamp State Park.  Warrick originally painted the Mail Pouch tobacco logo on this barn in the early 1980s. Warrick died the following month. He was the last of the original Mail Pouch Tobacco barn painters. 


The Antique Barn and Nature Center is now home to summer naturalist activities and historical displays. A resurrected log cabin and other reconstructed pioneer structures near the barn take visitors back to an earlier era. The paved Pioneer Trail winds through the pioneer village, enters the adjoining mature woodlands, and provides access to the Antique Barn. Interpretive signs are placed along the trail explaining the cultural and natural history of the park.
 

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