The winter of 1864 was a particularly brutal one, and it hit the town of Panguitch, Utah (then called Fairview) hard. Food supplies were dwindling to dangerously low levels when town leaders decided to take extraordinary measures to save the community from potential starvation.
Two rescue parties we sent out to seek food supplies from other “nearby” rural communities in Utah. One party attempted to travel 110 miles north to Gunnison, while the other would have to trek 40 miles west over the mountains to Parowan. The group traveling north were quickly impeded by harsh weather conditions and had to turn back. Meanwhile, the seven rescuers who trekked west over the mountains eventually had to give up their oxen team and wagon to travel through deep drifts of snow on foot.
As they were struggling, the rescuers stopped to pray for guidance. While doing so they knelt on the quilts and blankets that had been provided for warmth. As they did this, the group realized they were not sinking into the snow while kneeling. This gave them the idea of using their supply of quilts and blankets as a way to travel across the snowfields on foot without exhausting themselves. Essentially, the quilts became snowshoes. The rescue party was able to secure enough food and provisions to supply the town for the rest of winter and deliver it safely back home.
Since 1998, this heroic event is celebrated and remembered in Panguitch with an annual Quilt Walk Festival on the second week of June. Preceding each year’s festival, colorful quilts are displayed throughout town. More recently, a memorial and small park were completed and dedicated to the 7-member rescue party who successfully made this trek. This lovely little pocket park in downtown Panguitch is known as Quilt Walk Park on the south side of Center Street.
The park contains an impressive memorial statue, plantings, seven benches dedicated to each member of the rescue team, as well as inscriptions on the life story of each person. The park is well worth the stop and the quilts displayed around town are a unique sight to see in late May and June.
Know Before You Go
This pocket park is located on the south side of Center Street (US 89) directly adjacent and west of the Zions Bank branch.