Barn Quilt Trail Makes for a Great Day!!
Last week, my mom and I celebrated her birthday by going to Harpole’s Heartland Lodge. She had never been there and what better way to treat her than to take her someplace and let her be pampered…incredible meals, luxurious beds and some peace and quiet in the beautiful countryside setting of the lodge. But on Tuesday afternoon, we decided to head South to Calhoun County for a self-guided driving tour through the countryside to learn a little more about the Calhoun County Barn Quilt Project.
When I first started writing the blogs for the lodge, I had learned that Calhoun County had several barns with barn quilts on them. What I didn’t know is exactly how many barn quilts there actually were! The information that I obtained indicated that there are a total of 82 quilt blocks located on barns and businesses throughout Calhoun County. So, Mom and I headed out after breakfast for our very own barn quilt tour.
Barn Quilt Tour in Calhoun County, Illinois
Before getting in the car for our day in the country, I found some history and a map indicating the approximate location of each barn quilt in the Barn Quilt Project online. The information included pictures of several barn quilts along with a Calhoun County map and a list of the participating family farms and businesses. The list also included the longitude and latitude coordinates of each location in case you wanted to let your GPS map out your driving directions. Mom and I opted for the old-fashioned method of using the map and our good old sense of direction and I have to say that we did pretty well on our self-guided tour!
We devised a method to indicate which barn quilts we had seen…and once we got the hang of it, our method worked pretty well! The cover sheet I printed had pictures of eight different barn quilts and we ended up seeing seven of them! We saw a total of 24 barn quilts that day and stopped to take pictures of each one! Not bad for a mother/daughter combination in a van who decided to get off the beaten path and drive through the countryside!
With our method of noting each of these quilts painted by local artists, we came up with an identifying comment that would remind us of something about each one we saw! From “wheat field” to “grazing horses” to “mean green machine” (can you guess what was depicted in this one?), we both had our favorites! Even though several businesses participate in this community effort, including Mel’s Illinois RiverDock Restaurant in Hardin and Louie’s Kampsville Inn in Kampsville, many of the barn quilts are located on the barns of family farms which can only be found if you take the backroads.
As I am a picture-taking fool some days, I quickly found this to be a wonderful photo opportunity. In addition to spending a great day with my mom, enjoying our trek through the countryside, I was able to play with my camera and document our journey. We saw some of the most peaceful country with fields of wildflowers, a foot bridge made of iron and rope, and some beautiful farm homes nestled in the hills of Calhoun County.
Barn Quilt Self-Guided Tour in Calhoun County
The participants in the barn quilt project have provided us with a little glimpse into their life and history so remember, please be respectful of private property! Many people we encountered during the day were more than happy to share their story with us! We stopped at one of the locations – our “mean green machine” – which was yellow and green with John Deere tractors on it. There was a father with three of his sons with him – we asked if we could take pictures and he was kind enough to say yes. The two oldest boys became our source of information on the area, asked if we wanted to see other things, and even gave us directions to Kampsville. They were definitely one of the highlights of our day!
So the next time you’re a guest at Harpole’s Heartland Lodge, plan to spend a day (or two) exploring this wonderful part of Calhoun County! Even though Mom and I enjoyed our leisurely day with lunch at Louie’s Kampsville Inn, we only saw 24 of the 82 barn quilts that are a part of this project. I saw a few more on my way home through Hardin and Brussels on Wednesday but it’s definitely going to take me another day to try and see the rest of them. Whether you use the map like we did or plug the latitude and longitude of each quilt into your GPS, take the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of nature and the barns and their purpose!
I am determined to eventually photograph each barn quilt – it may take me a while, but it can be done! If you enjoy my pictures, or head out to take your own, don’t overlook the rest of the photo opportunities on your drive. Keep your eyes and ears open for what Mother Nature has given us to enjoy!
Last Updated: August 15th, 2023