Muncy introduces Heritage & Underground Railroad Barn Quilt Trail
MUNCY – It is turning into a country wide event. An idea that started in Ohio ten years ago has now blossomed to other states, including neighboring Pennsylvania. Taking road trips and touring historic places in scenic Pennsylvania has now become a popular past time for those who like to explore their surroundings and learn more of its history at the same time.
The initiative has been undertaken by some committed volunteers and the Muncy Historical Society who have now established the Heritage and Underground Railroad Barn Quilt Trail. On the last Saturday in June of 2014, six more barn quilts were hung in the Muncy/Pennsdale area to start the official trail. According to Linda Poulton, one of the main organizers, “We believe the trail will be a way to entice visitors to extend their stay in Lycoming County by stringing dissimilar attractions together quilt patterns, barn and farm outbuilding architecture, and our rural countryside.” She said she visited some in the mid-west where they were really popular and always thought they would be great to have here. “They were absolutely incredible. It was neat to see the quilts,” she said.
These barns are of historical significance. This is a perfect way to blend their charm and natural existence into the countryside. “It is about the preservation of the barn’s story,” added Poulton.
A perfect example is the barn quilt hung at the Arthur property on Clarkstown Road. The barn and property have existed since the early 1800’s and owners, Todd and Sandy Arthur chose the Carpenter’s Wheel to honor deceased family members. “I wanted certain colors,” said Sandy, “and I got to see the pattern each step of the way.”
She said she started with a computer copy, then a small 8×8 sample, but it’s nothing compared to its biggest size which can easily be seen from the road, an 8 by 8 foot square hung vertically in yellow, green and black colors. It was the last of the six hung that day.
According to Sue Keller, committee member, other families have jumped in with Wentzler’s as one of the first ones, and Harvey Stauffer will soon be hanging his own. Located on McCoy Road, the McCoy’s in Moreland Township were the first to have a barn quilt mounted by the historical society on Saturday morning, June 28. The Ingram’s have also purchased one and will soon be hanging theirs. “Mrs. Hall on Pond Road is also lined up for one,” Keller said.
Keller, a native to the area, has been contacting barn owners since March to see if they want to be included in this history making endeavor. Some businesses are also participating. The Olde Barn Center in Pennsdale was one of the first. Owner Linda Fry chose three patterns and colors that would be easily recognizable from Rt. 220. The first one is ‘The Tree of Life’ and she chose green and white colors. The second choice is called “Gentleman’s Fancy” and Fry added a third color which is red and can easily be seen on the barn from a distance. On the east side of the barn she chose “The Star of Bethlehem” which has an array of colors and easily viewed from Rt. 220.
The Country Store will also be added. “Many of these barn quilts will be in the this area,” Keller said.
The Laurel Highlands in southwestern PA was one of the first in the state to start a barn quilt trail when the owner painted a quilt patch on her barn in honor of her mother. Soon 15 quilt patches were made for barns in the Fay-West area. The first ones were painted on wood, then mounted on barns, some on houses and some on garages. Now the designs can be scanned into a computer and printed out on metal. The designs were selected from vintage patterns selected by members of the Muncy Historical Society. “We started with 80,” said board member, Judith Youngman. But they narrowed it down to 50, then 30.
The Historical Society also purchased an application to make the designs on the computer before they are cut and shaped onto the vinyl which covers the aluminum. The barn quilts are maintenance free for 15 years or so by using a special coating, and Stanley and Gray printers in Hughesville printed them out for the property owners.
“The Barn Quilt Project’s goals are to draw attention to Muncy’s old barns and to promote their preservation to commemorate the history of the locale by featuring quilt blocks of a compatible timeline and sensibility,” said Youngman who with the board is striving to celebrate the unique character Muncy has to offer while stimulating tourism at the same time.
To date 7 are hung, including the Poulton’s barn, which was the very first one. “We are hoping that once people see them, they will want to get one,” said Keller. The Poulton’s chose the “Union Block” and it can be seen at 228 Pepper Street, Muncy. The stories will be told through an app that can be downloaded to smart phones and i-pads and guided with GPS points to the properties. “But in the beginning we will use printed sheets for the tour,” Poulton said.
“It is a way to save our barns, with owners touching them up, repairing them and sometimes painting them to set off the barn quilt image,” added Poultan.
The Barn Quilt trail is perfect for those summer road trips, here in Pennsylvania where farming is still an important way of life in rural communities such as Muncy.
For anyone interested in participating in the Barn Quilt Project, contact the Muncy Historical Society at 570-546-5917.