There’s a rich culture in South Appalachia that runs through every part of life in our small town. In White Pine, we believe in the importance of preserving the history and tradition of mountain life that has shaped the community we love today.

Few things embody this tradition and connection to the old ways like a traditional quilt. Many folks still take the time and craftsmanship to master this art form that represents so much of our simple, homegrown way of life.

In celebration of these traditional quilts, you can find beautiful quilt squares adorning barns and other buildings along our country roads and highways. These quilt squares are made to look like the intricate squares you’ll find on a traditional quilt and represent so much of the beauty of South Appalachia. Many of these quilt squares can now be found in White Pine and Jefferson County, Tennessee, as part of the Appalachian Quilt Trail.

Tennessee: Home of the Appalachian Quilt Trail

In your travels along Tennessee’s backroads through rural areas, the quilt squares you’ve likely spotted on old barns or buildings are part of a larger network of artwork that’s come to be known as the Appalachian Quilt Trail. These intricately detailed paintings often reflect the family or area where they are showcased, with names like “Bears Paw,” “Pineapple Log Cabin,” “Country Decision,” and “Sunburst.”

What is the Appalachian Quilt Trail?

The Appalachian Quilt Trail is a chance to experience the beauty of Tennessee and Appalachia in a new way. Spanning multiple states and regions, quilt lovers can now follow these colorful hand-painted wooden quilt blocks that dot the landscape to find unique and authentic Appalachian experiences. Your search for the next quilt square can showcase your next favorite, off-the-beaten-path destination.

History of the Appalachian Quilt Trail

According to the Appalachian Resource Conservation & Development Council, the first Quilt Trail began in the early 2000s in Southern Ohio after a woman who was working in community arts had the idea of brightening up her mother’s weathered old tobacco barn with a quilt pattern. Inspired by the square’s brilliance against the aging, gray barn, many in the community started painting quilt squares that represented their area or the family who owned the barn or structure where one could find the quilt square.

The idea took off across the Southeast and eventually across the country. Quilt trails are now as far west as Oregon and Colorado, and north into the New England states like New Hampshire and Vermont. Throughout South Appalachia, quilt squares became especially popular in rural areas like White Pine and Jefferson County.

Quilt squares in Jefferson County

Based on traditional designs found on quilts within the Appalachian region, Jefferson County is home to 60 quilt squares found throughout the area. The original six quilt squares carry especially high significance for the now-beloved tradition.

  • Bear Claw with Strawberries

This quilt square honors a story dating back to the 1700s, when French historian and soldier Andre Michaux described the landscape of Jefferson County and the wild strawberries that covered the ground when they were in season. The square is hanging on a white barn at 3171 W. Old A.J. Hwy, Strawberry Plains.

  • School House Square

This quilt is hanging at the Appalachian Cultural Center on the campus of Carson-Newman University and is based on a quilt that is hanging in the McMinn County Living Heritage Museum in Athens, TN.

  • Bridal Path

This square is located on a farm that dates back to 1925. You can find it in Jefferson City at 563 N. Chucky Pike.

  • Dresden Plate

This quilt square can be found in the Chestnut Hill area at 1126 Swannsylvania Road. The barn showcasing the quilt square was built in 1931 and has been in the family for four generations.

  • The Stars Over Tennessee

You can find this quilt square in the Jefferson County seat on the Historic Gass Building in downtown Dandridge, which houses Southern Charm Kitchen and Dandridge Mercantile shop.

White Pine Quilt Squares

White Pine is home to four of the county’s most unique squares, with the Tall Pines square as our crown jewel. Located in the heart of downtown White Pine, Tall Pines is an homage to the tall white pine trees from which the city received its namesake.

Located at 1707 Main St., the quilt block is on the beloved old Allen-Surrett Hardware building, which has had a long history of owners dating back to the early 1900s.

White Pine’s local Senior Citizen building, found at 1824 Maple Street White Pine, TN 37890, is home to the another quilt square.

Then the fourth area quilt square can be found at the White Pine Cemetery at 1605 Moyers Stree,

Connect with History in Beautiful White Pine

In White Pine, we feel passionate about preserving and honoring our past while we grow toward the future. Our roots are deep in our Southern Appalachian home, and we believe in keeping that history alive for the generations that come after us. The Appalachian Quilt Trail and the stunning quilt squares that dot the landscape on barns and historic buildings are just one of the ways we preserve our mountain heritage and small-town way of life that makes White Pine the wonderful place to live it is today. If you’re looking for a true East Tennessee experience, White Pine is just the right place for you and your whole family. Sitting just over 40 miles northeast of Knoxville, Tennessee, White Pine is easily accessible from several major cities in the Southeast. Nestled between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Douglas and Cherokee Lakes, this picturesque community is filled with family-owned businesses, local eateries, bookstores, and libraries. Come visit us on your next trip out of town with the people you love, and experience why we’re proud of our historic and growing little town.

Photo from this article on the Tennessee River Valley Geo Tourism website.