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Local

DAY TRIP: Showing their true colors: There’s a lot of country charm just hanging around, waiting to be seen in Bureau County

OHIO – I enjoy wandering around the countryside looking for something – be it horses, Victorian houses, old barns or barn quilts, those large pieces of wood affixed to barns, painted to look like quilt blocks, that dot the countryside.

Bureau County has a barn quilt trail with 83 — yes count them — 83 destinations. Let’s go …

I have to admit, your travel guide and her co-pilot got lost doing this. The co-pilot blames this on my unfailing ability to not recognize which direction is north. When I finally surrendered, overwhelmed by the number system Bureau County uses in place of road names, I cranked up the GPS. 

We drove off, but I missed the turn, which looked like someone’s driveway, at least to me — the “GPS Gal” wasn’t commenting on that. As we followed directions, I noticed something familiar, and then something else familiar. “Didn’t we just go past that?” I asked.

Yes, we were going in a circle, directed by GPS Gal. Undaunted we continued to follow directions until we spilled out onto state Route 26 and, the co-pilot and GPS telling me which way was north, we headed back to Dixon. 

Before you start your own journey, I recommend dividing the trail into sections to be covered on several trips, making the 83 stops more manageable. I asked for information from Valerie Jensen and Sandy Carpenter (see contact information in “If you go” elsewhere with this article), and was sent a colorful paper map that helped us route our journey from Ohio into the northeast section of the trail. We wandered in the area of Van Orin and Lamoille, north of Arlington. I know what you’re thinking:“She was lost; it must have been Arlington, Virginia.”

This is a good time of year to circle about and see the barn quilts. It was easy to see the blocks on the barns without the distraction of leaves on the trees.

To be part of the trail, the Barn Quilt Committee has a few rules: The quilts have to be placed on agricultural buildings. They also must be visible from the road.Travelers should obey a few rules, too: Please don’t do a walkabout as the barn quilts are on private property. Also, keep traffic safety in mind. I was able to park on the side of the road to get my photos. Though there isn’t a lot of traffic on country roads, you should still keep an eye out for traffic. We had little trouble with traffic though on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

The information on the map I received shows the location of the quilts with bright yellow arrows pinpointing the direction to look, the name of the quilt displayed, and the owners’ names and address. It helps to have a “spotter” with you if you’re behind the wheel, so you can keep an eye on the road and look for a good place to pull over if you want to look closer or take a photo. Be prepared to turn around. I did that several times, wondering how we’d missed the barn quilt. It was easy, now and then.

We began by looking at Ruth Molln’s barn quilt at 22830 state Route 93, near Ohio. This quilt didn’t have a name. Having spotted that one, I was encouraged to continue driving on the trail. We didn’t find one quilt we were looking for – the Contrary Wife, near Lamoille. However, there were plenty of others to see. We stayed along Route 92 for a bit and then went north to catch a few quilts up along county’s northern border.

While up there, we saw Eldon Molln’s Gentleman’s Fancy at 25448 3000 North Ave.; Richard and Terri Molln’s Celtic Trinity Cross at 1452 Baseline Road; and Harry Molln’s quilt at 26877 2900 North Ave., all with Lamoille addresses.

Our wandering led us to Bob and Janice Williams’ Crown of Thorns at 25247 Rte. 92, Van Orin; and into Van Orin twice. We also caught Ray and Rheta Schallhorn’s Rolling Star at 26998 2750 East St., Lamoille.

We hit the jackpot at 27713 2350 East St., Ohio, at Joe and Sandy Carpenter’s, where we found barn quilts on three sides of the barn. They displayed the Ohio Star, Jessie’s Star and Carpenter’s Wheel.

Wherever you wander on this trail, it promises to offer a relaxing ride through the country at a peaceful pace, splashes of bright colors to catch the eye, from the patriotic to the fanciful, and even a little adventure as you explore new places. A group of women put in a lot of hard work to organize the tour, and you can enjoy it during any season, so hop in the car and enjoy this happy trail.

A group of women put in a lot of hard work to organize the tour, and you can enjoy it during any season. Wherever you wander on this trail, it promises to offer a relaxing ride through the country at a peaceful pace, splashes of bright colors to catch the eye, from the patriotic to the fanciful, and even a little adventure as you explore new places. The miles are sure to make you smile – a happy trail indeed.

If you go …

What: Bureau County Barn Quilt Trail

Where: Throughout Bureau County

When: A drive for daylight hours

What: Self-guided tour with use of brochure

Cost: Free

Distance: About 20 miles from Dixon to Ohio

Accessibility: Not applicable

Information: barnquiltsofbureaucounty@gmail.comor bureaucounty-il.com for Bureau County Tourism Committee and 815-303-4608 for Valerie Jensen and 815-973-7789 for Sandy Carpenter

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