GALLIA COUNTY, Ohio — Some trails are simple to follow; a basic path through the woods with natural scenery along the way or a winding walkway around the park. Others require the use of a car and can take miles to cover, following the planned coordinates of the driver. The Gallia County Quilt Barn trail is more like the latter than the former.
Spread across Gallia County are old and historic barns from a time in gone by, capturing a way of life that reaches back to the settling of our area. In 2007, the Gallia County Convention and Visitors Bureau started the Quilt Barn Trail in Gallia County as a way to promote local history and tourism to the lesser visited areas of Gallia.
Former Gallia Tourism Director Bob Hood and the late Ray McKinniss, Bob Evans Farm manager, witnessed the original quilt trail started by Donna Groves by the Ohio Arts Council. McKinniss and Hood brought the idea back and implemented it locally.
“Originally, Bob Evans gave the initial seed money and all the materials and labor for the first two squares at the farm,” said Hood.
The bureau worked with local quilters, artists, property owners, and various organizations to establish the trail and add quilt squares to various barns in Gallia, spread as far west as Ohio 233 in Greenfield Township, south of Mercerville on Ohio 218, and just north of Addison on Ohio 7.
Local retailers and contractors made deals to supply materials at reduced rates for citizens making the quilt squares at their farms. Every quilt was self funded by landowners, who purchased the supplies and labor. Eventually, the Ohio Arts Council made a grant for the quilt trail, which helped fund the project. An educational grant was also secured with the help of the French Art Colony at the time.
Gallia County Local Schools also helped support the project, employing art students to paint the squares after being stenciled by the FAC.
Each of the barns on the list feature a quilt pattern painted on to an eight-foot-by-eight-foot square and then fastened to the side of the barn, visible from the main roadway where it can be seen by tourists and have some kind of historical story or reason to be on the trail. According to Hood when the quilt trail was started, each barn that was added to the list told a piece of history or culture in Gallia. “The Tobacco Leaf” is a quilt on the Massie Farm at 1154 Ohio 775.
“Everything had to do with the community and property owners. One features a tobacco leaf and the impact of farming in Gallia,” said Hood.
The initial squares to go up were numbered and a small ceremony was held to commemorate each new quilt square.
“The first ceremony was at Bob Evans. The second was on Route 7. Fifty to sixty people attended that ceremony to hear the story of the farm and these people,” said Hood. “Many of these properties would come down from generations and generations, there were always stories about the properties and the squares fit that history.”
Two quilt squares are located on Bob Evans farm in Rio Grande, “The Gallia County Quilt Barn Trail” and “Central Star Quilt Square.” A patriotic square is located at 778 Ohio 850 in Bidwell on the property of Rex and Louise Greenlee. The “Ohio Star”is portrayed on the Fisher property at 332 Kraus Beck Road near Gallipolis. The Lester Farm has the “Log Cabin” square at 3215 Ohio 233 in Greenfield Township. “Jacob’s Ladder” is on the Altizer’s property at 3835 Ohio 325 near Patriot. At 9 Evergreen Road near Bidwell is the “Snail Trail” quilt square.
“Texas Broken Star” can be found at 4743 Ohio 7 near the power plants on the Fellure’s property. “The Ohio Star” is on the south end of Gallia at 11665 Ohio 218 on the Fowler Farm. On the old GCCVB building is the “Unconventional Pineapple” at 61 Court Street. “Century of Progress” is visible on the Niday Farm at 844 Lincoln Pike. Located at 5673 Ohio 325 near Patriot on the Trout property is “5440 or Flight.” Also on the Trout land is the “North Star” square. At 7009 Ohio 775 is “The Carpenters Wheel” on the Carter Farm. Also on Ohio 775 at 1154 is “The Tobacco Leaf” on the Massie Farm.
Many more quilt squares can be found throughout Gallia County, with an estimated total of more than fifty.
“The goal was to provide a way for people to enhance the tourism experience and enjoy the county,” said Hood. “There is a lot of rich history. If you just drive past the property you don’t get the same feeling as if you stop and talk to landowners and what they have went through, the history of their properties.
For more information on the trail, contact the GCCVB office at 441 Second Avenue in Gallipolis, 740-446-6882.
Reach Morgan McKinniss at 740-446-2342 ext 2108.