Blue Ridge Traveler

Block Number: 178

McDowell Quilt Trail
Ginger Todd


The McDowell County Tourism Authority, which also serves as the county’s second Visitor Center located in Old Fort, hosted Block #178 entitled “Blue Ridge Traveler”.    On Wednesday June 24th, 2015 Quilt Trail volunteers Mike Lucas, Jack Raker and Coy Gibson attached the block to the brick siding of the newly opened office.   Chairwoman Jill Lucas presented the Certificate of Authenticity, which will hang in the Visitor’s Center,  to Executive Director Carol Price and Administration Assistant Margaret Fretwell.

The 8 foot by 8 foot block, consists of 2 panels, each weighing around 100 pounds.  It is located on Catawba Avenue beside Mountain Gateway Museum and the Heritage Center and across the street from the Arrowhead Arts and Artisans League’s (A3L) gallery and studios, both of which formerly hosted quilt blocks (#100 in2011 and  #126 in 2012 respectively).  It faces south and is readily seen coming off Exit #73 of I-40 going in to the area of town known as Mill Creek Village.  

“Blue Ridge Traveler” describes the agency’s new logo in depicting the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and waters of McDowell County and “conveys those sites with the ‘Blue Ridge Mountains Meet the Lake’ design.”  It represents the many destinations for tourists to visit and enjoy outdoor venues while in our area.  It is a traditional quilt pattern and viewers may consider the background to be a sunset or sunrise. 

The Tourism Authority (an independent government agency created in 1986) has recently moved from its former Old Fort office inside the Train Depot, which served as a Visitor Center for around eleven years.  A quilt block, #11 on the Trail, was also placed on that building in 2009 and will remain in place there as representation of the railroad.

The Tourism Authority, within easy walking distance of the local shops and businesses in town, is developing “The Blue Ridge Traveler’s Towns and Trails” marketing campaign theme and considers their partnership with the McDowell Quilt Trail a “positive addition to their work”.

 Their mission is to promote McDowell County as the “hub” and destination for any trip to Western North Carolina.  The McDowell County Tourism Visitor Center, as well as the one in Marion, provides all sorts of tourism information including accommodations, restaurants, maps, and visitor travel guides to attractions and activities of every interest.  It may also be accessed on line at or by telephone at 828-668-4282.

Through a partnership with Parker Hosiery, the Arrowhead Artesian League and Old Fort Elementary School, a new project is to exhibit a series of seven mural type paintings displayed on panels throughout the downtown area.   
The blocks to be painted are constructed by the McDowell Quilt Trail and although not a part of the Trail Executive Director Carol Price feels they “will complement it”.  The panel paintings will be installed by volunteers of that organization who have the equipment to do so.

 The portrayals on the panels have been partially designed by students at the Old Fort Elementary School featuring local attractions and will ultimately be enhanced and painted by A3L artists.  The first of these panels completed, “Waterfalls”, was placed on the front wall of the Tourism Authority building the same day the quilt block “Blue Ridge Traveler” was installed.  

The McDowell Quilt Trail is appreciative of the promotion that the Tourism Authority has provided it by providing rack cards and display blocks in the office as well as Facebook postings of block installations.  This latest block brings a total of 191 quilt blocks on the Trail, including the unique Heritage Trail.  They represent and illustrate the goal of the Trail, portraying each and every special story they have to tell about our county.

For more information on the McDowell Quilt Trail contact Mike Lucas at 828-443-6476 who will aid you in designing the right block pattern and size for your story.  You may also visit on line at    Block listings, photos and stories may be seen, as well as application forms and other information. 

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