Els Mommers – “The Road that couldn’t be built”

As soon as the theme ROAD came up I knew what I wanted to do.

Our island is famous for the “Road that couldn’t be built”. Have a look at the site of the Saba Tourist office and you will read “Not many places in the world can boast a road as an attraction”

Before “The Road” life on Saba was much tougher. Everything had to be transported by twisting trails through gruelling elevations.

In the late 1930’s the decision to build a concrete road was made, but Dutch and Swiss Civil Engineers said it was impossible due to the island’s extreme topography.

Joseph Lambert Hassell a.k.a. Lambee followed a study in civil engineering by way of correspondence courses obtained by mail . In 1938 with the assistance of his fellow Sabans they started to build “The Road” by hand. In 1958 the road was completed.

(From:Saba tourist website)

Driving “The Road” is an experience in itself. It meanders over the island from harbor to airport Besides The Road there are only a couple of dead end roads leading up to houses.

I started with a blue felt background covered with small pieces of different colors organza covered with light blue tule and quilted.

The island is made of fabric paper and the elevation is from little pieces of tyvek. Those are stitched and later glued down with some tissue paper and painted. The road is meandering over the island with a wide cordon stitch. The surf is pure silk sewed on by hand.

“Lambee’s” picture is taken from an old book as is the title” “The Road that couldn’t be built” and printed on fabric.

The letters are handquilted to keep the old fashioned look ( it is a pity that you can’t see it properly on the picture).

When I found out that Susan S had used almost the same idea for Progress I was thinking about starting all over but after talking to her and Kaylene both insisted that I went on with my version.

Thank you ladies!



Close up view:





  1. Again, what a grand story and such fun you must have had creating the island. 🙂

  2. Els, you have captured the essence of human endeavour, well done

  3. What a great subject! Love the way you have put it together.

  4. Els I like how you use new techniques in your quilts. I like the history of this road.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: