The Skyline Rock Store Museum, located at 802 County Road 25 in Skyline, will be open each Saturday in October from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.
During this time, members of the public are welcome to visit the museum and learn about history of the Skyline Farms Project.
“We tell visitors about the history of Skyline,” said Cindy Rice, historian for the Skyline Farms Heritage Association. “It’s the history of this community. It’s where a lot of the people came from. It was also very important because it got so many people through the Great Depression and taught them skills for living.”
Rice explained that the Skyline Farms Colony was created around 1935 under the Franklin D. Roosevelt Administration. It was a New Deal program,
“There were approximately 100 of the colonies around the country, and two or three in Alabama,” Rice said. “It was a way to relieve people who were having trouble during the Depression. It helped give them some place to live and a way to raise money and survive.”
The Skyline colony was special because it was one of the largest in the program and it was based around farming.
“The colonists were taught how to raise crops, how to preserve the crops through canning, how to sew and how to make furniture. The men were taught skills like making the chimneys, building houses and working in lumber yards,” Rice said.
People were brought in by the government to teach the colonists and organize the project.
“Mr. Ross was the head of the colony at the time and Mr. East was the head of construction. They brought in specialists to teach the colonists,” said Rice.
The Rock Store itself was the center of the community, which before the colony had consisted mostly of sawmills and coal mines.
“This was the commissary,” Rice said of the Rock Store, which was constructed using rocks from a local rock quarry. “All the farmers brought their goods here and got all of their supplies here.”
Towards the end of World War II, the Skyline Farms Project came to an end.
“The government decided to get out of the colony business,” Rice said. “They thought it might be too communist like, so they came in and said ‘Pay for your farm, or leave.’ Only one or two families were able to buy their farms and the rest left. Many would go away for a little while and then come back to the town.”
Much of the inside of the Rock Store has been restored and it now houses a treasure trove of artifacts from the days of the Skyline Farms Project. There are many displays throughout the building, including official photographs from Farm Security Administration photograpers, as well as personal photographs contributed from local families. You can also see interesting artifacts like the first phone to ever be used at Skyline and furniture made by those who lived in the colony.
Rice said Skyline Farms Heritage Association looks forward to sharing the history of Skyline with visitors.
Ricky Cornelison, a volunteer, added that he thinks all history ought to be preserved and that he would love to see students from around the county visit.
Nita Killingsworth, treasurer of the association, added that the history preserved at the store shows a different era.
“Our kids don’t understand how we lived back then,” she said. “We picked cotton, hoed cotton and gathered it. Everyone used to work hard back then.”
Killingsworth added that on November 11 Veterans will be honored at the Rock Store with food and refreshments.
“We hope everybody will come by,” Killingsworth said.