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Ohio’s Western Heritage
By Candace Watson
As spring pops into view, Miami County, Ohio invites travelers to shed their winter blues and come experience an exciting program designed to connect the rural countryside with a colorful array of painted Barn Quilts. The Miami County Barn Quilts tour is an idea borrowed by counties in Iowa, Kansas, and other Ohio counties, and its purpose is to promote and celebrate the unique agricultural experience in our area.
Miami County Barn Quilts tour consists of true folk art renditions of quilt squares, hand-painted on barns throughout the county. Approximately 60 barn quilts currently adorn barns located throughout the county. The Barn Quilt project’s intention is to reroute tourist traffic off main routes, connecting visitors with the beauty and simple elegance of the Miami County countryside as they make their way from town to town.
Barns represent ties to the rural life, a reflection of our history and agricultural heritage. The purpose of this unusual driving tour is to promote and celebrate the unique rural and agricultural experience in our area—a relaxing trip that provides a taste of yesteryear while enjoying the simple elegance of the Ohio countryside. It celebrates quilting as a traditional art form as well as offering an appreciation of the architecture of farm buildings.
The trend is growing, capturing the spirit of the heritage traveler.
A lovely example of barn heritage in Miami County can be found east of Troy on St. Rt. 55. This Bank Barn, adorned with the “Texas Star” pattern, is an oblong frame structure on a stone foundation, built of oak and ash timber, wooden pegs, hand made nails, hinges and doors. It was built in the early 1840s when the farm was established and the land was cleared, and has maintained its original shape and size. An interesting historical marker is found at the west end of the barn, a 1959 National Geographic Geophysical year elevation marker that records the property as 1052 feet above sea level. Legend has it that if water reaches that mark, it will also be up to the hips of the statue on the Miami County Courthouse in Troy, Ohio.
East of Troy on St. Rt. 41, another beautiful barn, this one with a “Card Trick” pattern, sits off the road, down a half-mile country lane. This Pomeranian Style, Sweitzer Bank Barn, built in 1827, was originally constructed of wood. The history of the farmstead itself is connected with an Irish-born immigrant that arrived in 1813, one of the earliest settlers in the area. Buildings on the farm were constructed of bricks made from the clay on the farm, as well as wood which was cut from a sawmill he erected on the property. He also operated a grist mill and a distillery.
Visitors can see both of these historic barns and many more while wandering the Miami County countryside. A map brochure is available for those interested in taking the tour. Planning to visit all 60 quilt squares? Then be sure to plan a two-day stay and visit the Miami County website for details about hotels, restaurants and shopping. Contact the Miami County Visitors Bureau at 800/348-8993 or visit
to request your copy of the Miami County Barn Quilt brochure.
Take advantage of the early spring weather during this Lenten season to take a drive and enjoy the view along the Land of the Cross-Tipped Churches State Scenic Byway. The byway with 34 historic church buildings is located primarily in Auglaize and Mercer counties in west central Ohio.
German immigrants settled the area in the early 1800’s. Their faith was a very important component in their lives. That is on display today with the many large, gothic, red brick, cross-tipped steeple structures that dot the countryside. Most of these century-old churches feature intricate stained glass windows, carved alters and pews, lovely statuary and beautiful biblical scenes painted on ceilings and walls. The opulence of these buildings speaks to the importance these thrifty, austere Germans placed on honoring God.
When driving along the byway, don’t miss the National Marian Shrine of the Holy Relics located in Maria Stein and the St. Charles Center, just a few miles down the road in Carthagena. For more information on the Land of the Cross-Tipped Churches, the individual parishes and a map log onto
or call 800/860-4726 to have information sent to you. For more scenic drives in Ohio’s Historic West, go to