ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Quilt Trails of the Tar River: A Franklin County Arts Council Public Art Project

Updated on August 1, 2015
DonnaCSmith profile image

Donna Campbell Smith is a published author, freelance writer, and photographer. She also specializes in horses.

Quilt Trail Celebration

Franklin County Arts Council celebrates Quilt Trails of the Tar River at historic old depot in Bunn, NC
Franklin County Arts Council celebrates Quilt Trails of the Tar River at historic old depot in Bunn, NC

Conception to Reality

In central North Carolina nestled between hickory and oak forest, cow pastures, and small towns is a strong community of artists - visual, literary and musical - who have been quietly honing their crafts for many years. Some of those artists, members of Franklin county Arts Council, had the idea that with hard work and organization they could celebrate the talent, history, and culture of their region. The Quilt Trails of the Tar River was conceived. It has taken the efforts of many volunteers to bring the conception to reality. Marketing, construction, priming, drawing the design and painting them, and then installing the blocks are some of the tasks involved in creating the Quilt Trails of the Tar River.

Weldon Mill in Henderson, NC


Origin of Quilt Trails

The first quilt trail began when Donna Sue Groves of Ohio hung a quilt block on her barn in honor of her mother. From that single block quilt trails have spread to thirty states and to Canada. Western North Carolina boasts over two-hundred quilt blocks in six counties. The Quilt Trail of the Tar River is the first such trail in the central and eastern part of the state.

Volunteer Stephen Filarsky paints the design on one of the quilt blocks
Volunteer Stephen Filarsky paints the design on one of the quilt blocks

Local Support

Supported in part by a grant from the Franklin County Tourism Development Authority, the trail meanders along its route telling the story of the Tar River region block by block. The quilt trail helps tourists learn about this part of North Carolina's rich history and culture. Visitors to the area are finding the quilt trail a pleasant day trip, drawing them into a beautiful countryside of gently rolling tree-shaded roads through farmland, small picturesque towns and rural communities. It is only a short drive from the Triangle area which includes Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill. Many of the quilt blocks lead followers to small businesses like shops, galleries, inns, and restaurants as well as historical landmarks.

Sally Johnson from West Yarmouth, Massachusetts was drawn to to the Quilt Trail of the Tar River through a Facebook friend, Jennifer Thomas, who has a block on her home in Henderson, North Carolina.

Ms. Johnson said, "We are both quilters and I came to the area in April because I was teaching a class with Debbie Lou Powell. I love the concept of how the area represents the heritage of our country. I love the old fashion country style and love how the buildings look with the quilt blocks displayed on them. If I lived in the area I would for sure have one on my home."

The quilt blocks are square, wooden blocks sold in 2 by 2, 4 by 4, and 8 by 8 sizes. They are painted with a single quilt block pattern. For an extra fee the quilt pattern can be painted directly onto a building. A history of the building is included on the brochure and on the FCAC website, adding to the experience of following the trail, which now reaches beyond the boundaries of Franklin County to Vance, Warren, Wake and Nash counties and southeast all the way to Martin Counties.

For More Information

Email or go to and click on the Quilt Trail tab to learn more about the trail and see images of the quilt blocks.

You can also see images at


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • DonnaCSmith profile image

      Donna Campbell Smith 2 years ago from Central North Carolina

      Blond Logic, it is still growing and bringing folks to our area. I think all are seeing the value in being part of the quilt trail.

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 2 years ago from Brazil

      How interesting. I had never heard of this before. It sounds like a great way to keep a tradition alive and support local businesses.