In the good old days, as the elders are wont to say, families would pile into their vehicles and go for a Sunday drive after church. It was a chance to get out of the house, after a long week of work or school, and see the countryside in their neck of the woods. They called it loafering. No destination in mind–just out to enjoy the scenery with the windows rolled down, the radio playing (or not), and the wind blowing the stress of life to parts unknown. Maybe they would stop for ice cream or a picnic along their journey. It was relaxing; It was peaceful, and the world needs it to make a comeback. At Carolina Outfitters white water rafting, we think the NC Barn Quilt Trail would make a good Sunday drive, or any day drive! And, since barns are mostly found in rural locations, you’ll get a nice country drive in addition. Some NC Barn Quilt Trails go through cities and quilt patterns can be found on their historic buildings. Make a game of it–see who can spot the most barn quilts first. Most of all have a peaceful, relaxing drive, and leave your worries behind for a little while.
History of the Barn Quilt Trails
Barn Quilt Trails started in Adams County, Ohio as a way for Donna Sue Groves to honor her mother, Maxine, and her Appalachian heritage. Since then, the tradition has spread to 49 states. These paintings of quilt patterns reflect the story of each place they hang. Soon barn quilts spread to other states, becoming driving tours, drawing in tourists and bringing the Appalachian way of life to the forefront. Barn quilts are painted to reflect quilting blocks your grandmother sewed; each one unique to the person cutting, sewing, and quilting the patterns. They tell a story about the life and times of each quilter.
In 2008 Barbara and Martin Webster began painting barn quilts and before long there were 20 displayed on barns, businesses, and churches in their area of Yancey & Mitchell County, North Carolina. Handmade in America funded the Toe River Arts Council to start a Barn Quilt Trail in North Carolina, and Barbara Webster stepped up to manage it. Since then word spread and people from all over the United states began to come to see these painted quilts and learn the Appalachian heritage.
Nearby Trails to Barn Quilts
The Nantahala River falls within Swain County so it’s a short drive to Bryson City, North Carolina to locate the many barn quilts that grace this small mountain town. The trail starts at the Swain County Chamber of Commerce on Main Street with the Appalachian Star. The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad has the Railroad Spirit pattern. The Deep Creek Tube Center & Campground has the Around Deep Creek pattern. There are many more to see in Swain County. Be sure to visit A Tour Guide to Bryson City Quilt Blocks online to learn a little history about each quilt block.
Macon County, North Carolina has a Barn Quilt Trail, and they are just a short 40 minute drive from the Nantahala River. When you visit the Franklin Welcome Center, you will find a star barn quilt on their building. Step inside and ask about the trail and where to see more barn quilts in the area.
Haywood County is a little more than an hour from the Nantahala River, but worth the trip to go for a drive and seek out barn quilts. Visit Haywood Quilt Trails and learn where to find the many quilt blocks in the area. You’ll find Grandmother’s Dream on the Dawson Family Barn, Biloxi/Fox Chase on the Boone Orchard Apple House, Grandmother’s Flower Garden at Lil’s on Main Street in Clyde, Bear Paw at the Smoky Falls Lodge in Maggie Valley, and many more.
Other counties that have barn quilt trails are further east in western North Carolina: Henderson County, Madison County, Yancey County, McDowell County, and Avery County. Plans are set in motion to push further east to the coast of North Carolina.
Now that you know where some of the Barn Quilt Trails are located in Western North Carolina, you can plan a drive around your white water rafting trip with Carolina Outfitters. Book your trip now for a fun filled day of adventure with the company that has the most fun on the Nantahala River.