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Quilt Pattern: Crossed Canoes, at home of Tim & Sally Plum, N5295 Cty. E, Albany, Wis.

Green County, Wis., Barn Quilts

Various locations • Green County, Wis. • greencountybarnquilts.com • Green County Tourism • (888) 222-9111 • greencounty.org

Quilts represent family history and community heritage; quilt patterns on barns date back to colonial times. The new movement dates back to Ohio, 2001, and as of 2010, nine states offer quilt trails.

In Green County, visitors can view 100 different sites decorated with colorful barn quilt squares, up from just 30 a year ago.

Barn quilt squares are painted on wood, usually 8×8 feet, by a team of volunteers from places like schools, Scouting, 4-H, churches, other community groups and even families. Property owners submit applications to have their sturdy, permanent buildings considered as barn quilt square sites, and all reflect the agricultural heritage of the county – not only barns, but corn cribs and other rural structures.

Traditional patterns mostly reflected the quilter’s surroundings and celebrated life passages, such as Flying Geese, Bear Paw, Log Cabin, Hens and Chicks and Wedding Ring. Some were used as secret codes for slaves fleeing on the Underground Railroad, such as the North Star (prepare to escape; head north to freedom) and Drunkard’s Path (follow a zigzag route to elude slave hunters in the area).
Locations are shown on the Green County Barn Quilts Web site and available in visitors guides from Green County Tourism. Motorists can map out a route that includes stops at cheese shops, breweries, museums, Swiss communities and other Green County attractions.

Toy Train Barn

W9141 Hwy. 81 • Argyle, Wis. • (608) 966-1464 • whrc-wi.org/trainbarn

After working as a conductor for both the Wisconsin & Calumet and Wisconsin & Southern railroads, Buck Guthrie found a way to turn his passion for model trains into a full-time undertaking – and save the family homestead in the process.

More than 25 layouts are operating at any given time, ranging from miniature Z scale, which is 1/220th of the original size, to G, or Garden scale, 1/22nd of the original size. Guthrie’s favorite model train is the American Flyer, so it’s fitting that the largest display is his American Flyer S gauge collection. Many layouts are animated, and visitors are encouraged to flip switches and get hands-on. Wife Jan has created an interactive “I Spy” game that keeps them on the lookout for various scenes and details among the displays.

Outside, the “Argyle and Eastern Railroad” is a 12-inch gauge train that people can ride. The track is about a mile long around the barn, with three trestle bridges and Horseshoe Curve. In 2009, the Guthries placed a quilt square with the Sante Fe pattern on their bright orange barn, part of the Green County Barn Quilt Tour. The barn, parts of which are more than 100 years old, is on the farm where Guthrie grew up. His family sold the farm, but he bought it back in 2000. He and Jan restored the barn and debuted the Toy Train Museum in March 2001. It’s open daily from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Mississippi Palisades State Park

16327A Ill. Route 84 • Savanna, Ill. • (815) 273-2731

Located near the junction of the Apple and Mississippi rivers, these 2,500 pristine acres are known for teeming wildlife, abundant birds, beautiful flowers, dappled wooded ravines, striking limestone formations and panoramic views.

The park’s 15 miles of trails range from wider, graveled and less strenuous to the north, with staircases and railings to help hikers maneuver around the larger boulders, to narrower, more challenging trails to the south.

The paved roads make for pleasant, scenic drive-throughs, and picnic tables, playgrounds and restrooms are scattered throughout. The shelters and water fountains here were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s.

Campers will find electrical hook-ups available at 110 sites, and showers and flush toilets are open from May 1 to Oct. 31. A camp convenience store operates May 1 through Sept. 15. Boating and fishing are also popular.

A palisade is a line of cliffs, and the westward-facing limestone bluffs here offer stunning vistas. One of the best is from Lookout Point, where you can see the Mississippi River braid its way around islands. In summer, its backwaters are carpeted with blooming lilies that attract a variety of wading birds. The Burlington Northwestern Santa Fe rail line winds right next to the water.

Distinctive rock formations, the result of thousands of years of erosion and geologic events, include Indian Head and Twin Sisters (above). The park is open year-round, but nature is unpredictable; call ahead to make sure roads and facilities are open. ❚

Read more about our region’s unique character in Genuine Northwest Passions, and meet inspiring leaders who live for their work.

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