‘Underground Railroad’ quilt raises money for Historical Society | VailDaily.com

‘Underground Railroad’ quilt raises money for Historical Society

The ladies of the High Altitude Quilt Guild and their Underground Railroad Quilt. From left (standing) are Brandi Smith, Kathy Heicher, Luanne Mayne, Sheryl Larson, Cristi Musser, Marisa Sheehan, Janet Hester, Bettie Tymkovich, Emilie Trujillo, Lorie Everman, and Molly Churchill. In front (knelling) are Sarah Braucht and Joanne Cermak.
Special to the Daily

Historians are divided on the question of whether quilts were used to signal runaway slaves during the Underground Railroad era. But the concept is intriguing. The pattern contained in a quilt hung on a clothesline or displayed in a cabin window could offer coded directions for frightened fugitives.

For example, a quilt with a “Log Cabin” pattern could indicate a safe house. A colorful “Bear’s Paw” block might be an instruction to follow an animal path through the woods.

The Eagle County Historical Society is selling chances to win an Underground Railroad quilt that was pieced and hand-quilted by the High Altitude Quilt Guild. The reproduction quilt features traditional fabrics stitched into a variety of squares featuring block patterns popular in the mid-1800s.

Guild President Sheryl Larson notes that the quilts create an annual charity quilt that is donated to a worthy cause. The women of the High Altitude Quilt Guild took on the Underground Quilt

“Given the historical design of the Underground Railroad quilt, we thought the Eagle County Historical Society was the perfect recipient,” Larson said in a release. Guild members pieced the blocks using reproduction fabrics from their scrap bags. Marisa Sheehan hand-quilted the blanket. The blanket includes one “story label” block interpreting the meaning of the quilt squares.

Support Local Journalism

The quilting in itself is a code of sorts. Sheehan’s tiny stitches include subtle touches such as directional arrows and a set of railroad tracks anchoring the border.

The quilt is currently on display at the Eagle County History Museum at Chambers Park in Eagle. Money raised through raffle ticket sales will be used for development of future museum exhibits. Tickets are $5 each or three for $10 and are available at the museum which is open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday through Monday. Tickets may also be obtained by emailing the Historical Society at echs@eaglecountyhistoricalsociety.com.

The High Altitude Quilting Guild meets monthly on the fourth Tuesday at the Eagle Valley Rod and Gun Club in Gypsum at 6 p.m. For more information visit the club’s Facebook page.

Support Local Journalism