MASON COUNTY, KY — All trails lead somewhere, though what becomes of the journey is up to the traveler.
In Mason County, Kentucky, visitors can follow a one-of-a-kind trail that stitches together communities with the unique language of quilt squares.
The first quilt trail in West Virginia began in Mason County in 2001. Currently, there are 30 quilt squares on area barns spread across multiple driving trails.
Denny Bellamy, director of the Mason County Convention and Visitors Bureau, credits local quilters Mollie Yauger and Jane Coles with helping jump start the project, along with help from Dwight Jeffrey and other local volunteers, including students from the Mason County Career Center who helped cut the wooden squares. He said the trail evolved over a period of time with the most recent quilt square dedicated a few of years ago. He added, grants were received to complete the trail without any cost to the taxpayer. Quilt squares cost around $300, each.
“The 30 we built didn’t cost the owners a dime,” Bellamy said. “We bought the material, we bought the paint and went to the carpentry class at the career center who built all the quilt squares…then those went to Mollie Yauger’s farm, Dwight (Jeffery) sketched the design and Mollie and Jane’s quilt club members would paint them.”
Bellamy added, local high school students would put up the squares as part of their community service fulfillment for graduation.
“The process of building it (the trail) was over a period of years,” Bellamy said. “It takes time and you’ve got all these people working on it. It (the trail) was all done with volunteers and then we taught everyone else how to do it in the state.”
As the trail grew so has the interest. Bellamy is in the process of completing a new guide to the trail, complete with histories of the quilt squares and GPS coordinates. Though the trail has been there for awhile, the way to find it is evolving.
“We’ve got to promote this,” he said. “Its gone from people following maps to following phones.”
He said, when those residents agreed to place the quilt squares on their barns or homes as part of the official trail, they signed a waiver allowing people to visit the property. He added, this is a unique opportunity for those people to visit 30 farms in the county.
The first barn to participate belongs to Yauger and her husband Raymond and has a Maple Leaf design, located 12 miles south of Point Pleasant on U.S. 35. A square representing a log cabin rests at the West Virginia State Farm Museum. A pineapple quilt square greets visitors to the Mason County Tourism Center with the pineapple being a traditional symbol of hospitality. This underscores how the quilt square visually represents concepts and meaning to quilters and homesteads.
A Star Lily square is on the Johnson homestead at 9343 Ripley Road, Point Pleasant. This design was reportedly chosen for the thousands of lilies that once bloomed on their property. Then there are some quilt squares that need no explanation like, a Modernized Milky Way square which appears at the Cottrill dairy farm, at 10273 Ohio River Road, West Columbia; or, the Grandmother’s Daisy square that is at Bob’s Market and Greenhouses at 211 Second Street in Mason. There’s even a Hope of Hartford square on the Hartford Community Center Building along W.Va. 62 north in Hartford.
The trail includes a Delectable Mountains square located on the USDA Agriculture Service Center on First Street in Point Pleasant. An Indian Arrowheads square on the Simon Farm at 201 Ohio River Road, Point Pleasant. A Bicentennial square on the Lanier property at 55 Staffhouse Road, Point Pleasant. A God’s Eye square is on the Burris farm at 5200 Seven Mile Ridge, Apple Grove and more.
For those who wish to find Dreama’s Star, Turkey Tracks, Postage Stamp, Hunter’s Star, Lucky Star, Hole in the Barn Door, Mariner’s Compass, Star of Bethlehem, the county’s Mail Pouch barns and more, stop by the tourism center located at the foot of the Bartow Jones Bridge for the official map.
Beth Sergent is editor of Ohio Valley Publishing.