It all started when Suzi Parron, author of “Barn Quilts and the American Quilt Trail Movement” gave a presentation to the Placerville Gold Bug Quilt Guild,” said Linda George, founding member of the local Quilt Trail Project. The charter members “hit the trail”, so to speak, with historic quilting patterns, paintbrushes, wooden canvases, and dynamic, cohesive action, to share the idea of making “The Quilt Trail Project” a reality in El Dorado County.
Since then, a number of barn quilts, which are hand-painted on 3’ and 4’ wooden squares have been installed on local buildings and in gardens throughout the county. This public art is meant to adorn, and complement, old barns, historic buildings, gardens, and elsewhere. Not only do they enhance the countryside, but barn quilts also draw attention with their vivid colors and historic quilt patterns — each one is a story waiting to unfold.
In the year following the inaugural barn quilt story and installation, many have realized what gems they are and we cannot tell the stories of gratitude and meaning fast enough.
El Dorado County Farm Trails Association merged “The Quilt Trail Project” into the agri-tourism fold in March 2015 so that they now enjoy mutual compatibility, depth, interest, and commerce with additional visual beauty.
Our first local quilt story comes from quilter Janet Kanter-Purcell who wanted to depict her great, great grandfather’s historic journey as he traveled west via an oxen-drawn prairie schooner.
“The quilt block design ‘On the Oregon Trail’ fit my pioneer heritage perfectly. Ezra Meeker, my great, great grandfather, brought his young family to the Pacific Northwest by way of the Oregon Trail in 1852, a journey he held close to his heart,” said Kanter-Purcell.
In 1906, Meeker started a cross-country trek to mark the exact route of the trail. Walking alongside his oxen-drawn wagon, he planted monuments to show the way.
When he finally arrived in Washington DC in 1907, he met with President Theodore Roosevelt to initiate legislation for the preservation of the Oregon Trail.
Congress never passed a bill but officially memorialized it. In the past decade, almost all of the markers have been found, restored, and recognized from Puyallup, Washington to Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Janet’s quilt block is not easy to find and she’s not on any map…she lives high up in Camino on a winding road in the trees. Her great, great grandfather’s house is easy to find in Puyallup, Washington.
If you want a map to guide your way into learning amazing history, click here!