Barn Quilts of the Boonslick: a work in progress

By Rhiannon Ross

A Sunday drive along the historic Boonslick (boons-lick) region of central Missouri may never be quite the same.

Along Interstate 70 and back highways so curvy that both my grandmas would say “a snake laid this road,” visitors will make delightful finds: barns featuring colorful patchwork quilt squares.

Welcome to the Barn Quilts of the Boonslick: A work in Progress. This scenic tour features quilt blocks—many based upon regional quilting patterns—painted on 8-by-8-feet aluminum panels attached on the face of 25 barns in the three-county region of Cooper, Howard and Saline.

The Boonslick Area Tourism Council developed the project after one of its members spied the festive patchwork designs adorning barns on the east coast, says Connie Shay, secretary and treasurer of the council.

“We decided we wanted to do the same here and help promote tourism in the state,” she says. “We hope it will encourage people to get off of the Interstate and into our rural communities and bring commerce.”

Preserving the tobacco and other old barns in the region is another goal of the project, as is extoling the role Missouri played as Gateway to the West, Shay added. The project is funded by a folk art grant from the Missouri Arts Council.

Among the represented quilt blocks are the Missouri Star, the Prairie Flower, and the Santa Fe Wagon Tracks. The popular Farmer’s Daughter can be sighted in two counties. A work in progress, the goal is to add 12 to 14 more barn quilts by summer 2012.

The Boones Lick Trail is named after frontiersman Daniel Boone’s two sons who located a salt lick in Howard County in the early 1800s. The Boone brothers boiled water from the saline spring and shipped the salt down the Missouri River to the Boone Settlement near present day Matson, MO, according to Settlers used salt to cure meat.

The first barn quilt in 2001 was the inspiration of Ohio resident Donna Sue Groves who wanted to honor her late mother, a quilter, and help promote local tourism. Since then, 27 states have joined the national effort to create a “clothesline” of barn quilts across the U.S.

To find a barn quilt tour in your state, visit Check convention and visitors bureaus or chamber of commerce offices for tour maps. You also can join an online conversation about the project on the Facebook page: Barn Quilts and the American Quilt Trail.


Rhiannon Ross can be contacted at