The Quilt Trail

comments (4) June 27th, 2008     

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MaryRay Mary Ray, contributor
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Large painted quilt blocks adorn barns and other buildings along the Quilt Trail in Avery County, NC.
Its astonishing the time people have put into crafting and displaying their quilts.
Large painted quilt blocks adorn barns and other buildings along the Quilt Trail in Avery County, NC.

Large painted quilt blocks adorn barns and other buildings along the Quilt Trail in Avery County, NC.

Photo: Mary Ray

Quilts don’t always have to be stitched from fabric to make an impact. Hidden along the back roads and popping up along the main roads in the Southeast, oversized painted quilt blocks hanging on the sides of barns and other outbuildings may be spotted. This project, known as the Appalachian Quilt Trail, was started in Ohio and is now part of the landscape in Kentucky, Tennessee, and western North Carolina—where I live. In fact, I’m on the board of the Arts Council in Avery County, NC, and a member of its Quilt Trail committee (http://www.averycountyartscouncil.org/pages/avery_quilt_trail.html). We launched the project in this area about a year ago, and the response has been overwhelming. It’s a wonderful way to highlight the quilting heritage that’s so much a part of this region as well as an opportunity to increase tourism. Several western North Carolina counties have now established scenic driving trails linking the buildings that display the blocks. There are maps to guide travelers, and most of the blocks have a story behind them, which is the most interesting part of the whole project: When a family elects to have a block installed on their barn or other building, they have the opportunity to choose the block and often the selection is based on something in the family history. Perhaps the block appeared in a quilt made by a grandmother, or it symbolizes something from the family name. These stories are collected and are a part of the documentation that is part of the trail.

If you have Quilt Trails in your neck of the woods, I’d love to hear about them. And if you plan a trip to this part of the country and plan to follow one of the trails, let me know and I’ll tell you about some other things not to be missed—and there are many—like the Blue Ridge Parkway that runs through our county and is one of the most spectacular and yet serene highways you can drive. The Parkway goes from the Smokey Mountains in Tennessee to the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, and it’s the perfect antidote to stressful expressway life. And when you take a trip on the Parkway, I’m sure you’ll spot some quilt blocks along the way.

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Comments (4)

PKraft writes: Nice article. I discovered quilt trails while travelling in KY. My interest has grown and I now want to help start one here in the Yadkin Valley of NC. I would love to hear and learn about your trail in western NC.
Posted: 10:18 pm on March 11th
PKraft writes: Nice article. I discovered quilt trails while travelling in KY. My interest has grown and I now want to help start one here in the Yadkin Valley of NC. I would love to hear and learn about your trail in western NC.
Posted: 10:17 pm on March 11th
kygirl writes: when coming from cinn. ohio on rt. 52 east, you see alot of painted quilt blocks on barns and out buildings, it is really nice to see
Posted: 11:49 am on September 10th
MaeveQ writes: This is so cool. We are headed south this fall and I am going to read up more on this--thanks
Posted: 12:10 pm on June 27th
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