Panguitch Quilt Walk
The Quilt Walk
In 1863 a community called Fairview was initially established approximately 20 miles northwest of what is now Bryce Canyon National Park. The valley for the community now called Panguitch sits at an elevation of 6,600 feet and resulting cooler year-round temperatures made this area a more difficult place to produce good crops. Deep snow came very early in the second winter of Fairview’s existence and the residents were faced with wheat that had not matured and was therefore difficult to grind. The people tried boiling the wheat but it was still not very edible. Members of the community fished and hunted but they were competing with the Indians for available meat.
Leaders discussed their lack of food and decided that they would send out two groups to acquire supplies from other communities. One party headed north toward Gunnison, 110 miles away, but on a series of trails where they anticipated they would find less snow. The other group ventured west over a high mountain pass toward the community of Parowan, a distance of about 45 miles. The Gunnison bound party found their passage blocked by snow and returned almost immediately, leaving all hopes on the seven men bound for Parowan. Traveling initially by wagon the Parowan party made good progress on the first stage of their journey, but the snow gradually deepened. At a mountain pass it became apparent that they would have to finish the mountain crossing on foot. The men made little progress as their legs plunged into the deep drifts of snow. With little hope of progressing the men laid a quilt on the snow on which they knelt to pray for guidance and assistance.
As the men prayed they realized that the quilt on which they knelt was supporting their weight on the snow. This began a process of laying one blanket after another, for the men to walk across the mountain. Eventually the men reached Parowan where they acquired as many sacks of flour as they could carry. Parowan settlers assisted the group as far back up the mountain as was possible but soon the men were again walking on their quilts while now carrying heavy sacks of flour. An expedition that is estimated to have taken as much as fourteen days finally brought the men back to Fairview where they were received with great celebration. Do to a subsequent conflict with Native Americans of the region many communities, including Fairview, were evacuated for several years. Upon return to the area in 1871 the name of the community was changed to Panguitch.
The people of Panguitch hold an annual celebration of this quilt walk event and a memorial now stands in the center of town to honor the efforts of these original settlers.