The North Carolina Visitor Center




Quilt Block Sundial

One-of-a-Kind Quilt Block Sundial Installed in Burnsville

    BURNSVILLE, N.C. - The latest quilt block to adorn a building in Burnsville has the distinction of being the first one in the world that can also be
used to tell time.
    Quilt Trails of Western North Carolina installed a quilt block sundial in downtown Burnsville on Friday, March 19. The colorful block is mounted on the Yancey
Times Journal building just north of the town square. It features a 4-foot gnomon spire that uses sunlight to tell the time of day, and is accurate within six minutes.
    Local astronomy buff Bob Hampton came up with the idea more than a year ago and pitched it to Barbara Webster, executive director of Quilt Trails of WNC.
Webster and her husband, Martin, spent 12 months working with Hampton to turn the idea into reality.
    "It's really going to pull people to Burnsville. There's nothing like it anywhere else in the world," Barbara Webster said. "I hope the town will think of it
as the town clock."
    The eight-foot by eight-foot wooden structure, visible from town square, features three sets of numbers for telling time. There's a set for daylight savings
time, a set for standard time and one for local apparent time. A plaque beside the block explains how to use the sundial and the trigonometry principles involved.
    "It's a real educational opportunity for people to learn how to read it," said Webster. "High school students can use it to apply abstract math to the real
    In addition to being the world's only quilt block sundial, it's also a milestone for the Quilt Trails of WNC project. It is the 150th block displayed in
Yancey and Mitchell counties.
    "Quilting is part of our heritage," Webster said. "You can learn the history of our area by traveling around and seeing the quilt blocks. This is a way to
embrace our heritage."
    For info on the sundial or the region's nine quilt trails, visit, or call (828) 682-7331.