Stitching together a “Quilt Barn Trail”


On Michigan’s historic Old Mission Peninsula, the community has banded together to stitch a Quilt Barn Trail. One may ask, as I first did, what is a Quilt Barn Trail? Essentially, it is an effort to celebrate and recognize the agricultural heritage of the community by decorating area barns (sometimes other non-agricultural structures) with painted wooden squares that depict important familial, cultural, and historical aspects of the farm where the barn is located.

The trail allows residents and tourists alike, to travel the countryside admiring the quilt patterns and learning more about local history. According to barnquiltinfo.com, the first of these Quilt Barn Trails was established in Adams County, Ohio, southeast of the Cincinnati in 2001. Today, nearly 30 quilt barn squares adorn the countryside there.

On Old Mission Peninsula, located adjacent to Traverse City, my wife and I located 15 of these quilt squares – more than the ten (10) listed on the most recently updated guide found online. Above and below are five  (5) of my favorite images from those we found and photographed while touring about this gorgeous peninsula on April 23rd.

Many other communities across the nation have similar programs, though not necessarily all of them are placed on barns. There are 17 other counties just here in Michigan with some sort of Quilt Barn Trail to follow and enjoy.  

Below is a short poem I penned about Old Mission Peninsula’s Quilt Barn Trail. Peace!

Along the Quilt Barn Trail

Along the quilt barn trail

are squares that tell a tale

of culture and folklore

with exterior decor

On this gorgeous landscape

dotted by cherry and grape

rest these artistic visions

depicting quaint Old Mission

Affixed upon each shed

an image of fabric spread

being artfully transformed

onto timbers aptly formed

Nailed smartly to the wall

these bright patterns do recall

something dear to the heart

that one wishes to impart

Visitors from near and far

arrive by bike, bus, and car

to see these colorful works

while enjoying local perks

Cresting hills and narrow vales

surrounded by windswept sails

add luster to this background

where serenity may be found

Along Mission’s quilt barn trail

homespun profiles do prevail

each scene’s a new delight

on the landscape they alight.

Rick Brown 2016

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