Please enjoy a visit with some volunteers we profiled last year; Jim and Ellie Burbank.
Our National Parks are protected and enriched by a small army of volunteers whose time, enthusiasm and energy are put to use in so many ways. Over the next year, we would like to recognize the efforts of some of the people who help protect America’s Treasures. Today, we’re going to start with Jim and Ellie Burbank. The words below come from Lauren Gass, Special Projects Director for the Great Smoky Mountains Park.
About the Burbanks
Jim and Ellie Burbank give selflessly of their time on a weekly basis to enhance and improve Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Residents of the great state of Tennessee, they embody the volunteer spirit. They are former operators of the Snowbird Inn in Robbinsville, NC. Ellie is a world-class chef and baker and Jim is a retired biologist with the Tennessee Valley Authority. Both are weekly hikers who thrill at any chance to introduce their friends and family members from across the U.S. and around the world to the wonders and beauty of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Jim is a key member of the Volunteers-in-Parks program, and the Friends of the Smokies Tennessee office just would not function very well without Ellie’s help.
Jim actually goes out and meets strangers and tells them about the national park in his work as a weekly educational interpretive volunteer in Cades Cove, and he meets plenty of them with 2.5 million people visiting this beloved valley in Great Smoky Mountains National Park every year. He also leads monthly full moon walks in the Cove for campers and families to experience the quietude of this mountain treasure at night. Jim also leads wildflower walks for other nonprofit organizations including Friends of the Smokies, and has helped countless hundreds of hikers differentiate between a yellow trillium and a trout lily.
Ellie acknowledges all of the contributions made to Friends of the Smokies, which involves keeping the organization’s donor records up-to-date and accurate, printing tens of thousands of acknowledgment letters each year, and she does it all in two days each week. She has volunteered with Friends for more than 14 years, and is the equivalent of another part-time staff member. Jim and Ellie dedicate substantial amounts of time to impart their love of Great Smoky Mountains National Park to others, and they take their volunteer work very seriously. They are extremely knowledgeable about the Park and its needs.
The Great Smoky Mountains national Park hosts over 9,000,000 visitors each year. Yes, you read that correctly–Nine. Million. Visitors. As the most-visited park in the United States, it needs the help of people like the Burbanks. We thank them sincerely for their generosity and commitment.
Learn more about helping to support our National Parks here.
Welcome to the most visited national park in the United States, Great Smoky Mountains National Park. These misty mountains welcome nine to ten million visitors per year. The park covers more than 800 square miles in Tennessee and North Carolina, making it the largest national park east of the Rockies.
We sent our blanket home to the Great Smokys with one of our #pendle10park explorers. True to their name, the mountains were cloaked with heavy mist, caused by high elevation, 80 inches of rainfall per year, and a multitude of flora; 130 species of trees, over 100 native shrub species, and some 1,600 species of flowering plants.
The Cherokee called the region Shaconage, which translates to “mountains of the blue smoke.”
The park is home to many beautiful waterfalls that also play a part in creating that wonderful haze.
As an International Biosphere Reserve, the Park’s biological diversity is preserved and studied. A staggering 10,00 different species of plants and animals are recorded here, but there may be as many as 9o,000 more species of plant an animal life still to be identified.
With the help of a distance lens, our explorer encountered some of this wildlife, including one of the park’s 1500 black bears.
Elk, which were re-introduced to the park in 2001, are becoming more common. A herd of around 140 ranges on the North Carolina side of the park. Again, we promise that these beautiful shots were taken at a distance.
Great Smoky National Park is open 365 days a year, and park entry is free. Free! Yes, that means you have access to 850 miles of hiking (there is a fee for overnight camping. But it’s worth it to wake up and smell the coffee in a paradise like this.
Many thanks to our #pendle10park explorer, Ben Matthews.
In 2010, Pendleton Woolen Mills introduced our Tribute Series, paying homage to four of the American Mills that thrived during the Golden Age of Trade blankets. Today, we will talk about Racine Woolen Mills, known for their intricate patterns.
In 1865, a Racine company began producing textiles under the name Blake & Company under the leadership of Lucien Blake and John Hart. In 1877, the company incorporated under the name of “Racine Woolen Mills—Blake & Company.” Racine Woolen Mills went on to become the premier producer and marketer of Trade blankets destined for commerce with Native Americans.
Racine was well-established by 1893. Records show employees of 150 skilled weavers and gross sales of $300K, which was an robust amount for the day. Racine’s fringed shawls were produced under the “Badger State” label. These earliest shawls are relatively subdued by today’s standards, mostly plain with an in intricately designed border. Photos of these vintage shawls show the superior drape of the fabric. They were extremely popular with Native American women.
Native American women in Racine’s Ribbon-pattern shawls
Each of the companies in our tribute series has its own trademark specialty. Buell is known for faithful reproduction of Native American weaving patterns. Oregon City is famed for fanciful figural patterns and unexpected, riotous color. Racine Woolen Mills blankets are valued for unexpected, intense colors and intricate patterns. Diamonds, crescent moons, five-pointed stars, ribbon bows, compass roses, combs, waterbugs, pipes and feathers are woven with definition and clarity. The sheared finish of a vintage Racine blanket keeps the designs crisp and the hand smooth.
The famed Racine quality was maintained after production was taken over by another fine weaving mill, Shuler & Benninghofen, a mill that produced blankets for Racine until (approximately) 1915. Racine continued to merchandise and market trade blankets procured from different manufacturers until 1940 or so. They seem to have stopped offering wool trade blankets after that, though they kept on as a wholesaler of other styles of woolen blankets and goods until 1951, when Racine Woolen Mills closed doors for good.
Hidatsa Man by Edward Curtis
According to our friendBarry Friedman in his book Chasing Rainbows, “The last ‘genuine’ Racine blankets were made in the 1930s, when John Hart asked Paul Benninghofen to make one of the old patterns. It was a special favor, because by then Shuler & Benninghofen no longer produced trade blankets and Racine hadn’t contracted to have them made there or anywhere else in years.” The Racine blankets beloved by collectors come from the golden years of 1893-1912, and the Pendleton Mill Tribute blankets are re-creations of blankets from that period.
The Tribute blankets for Racine
Racine #7 (available here): Muted colors were rare for Racine. The original blanket was woven for Racine Woolen Mills by Shuler & Benninghofen.
Racine #6 (available here): Tomahawks, Bows and Arrows
Racine #5 (retired): Banded Diamonds
Racine #4 (retired): A dizzying array of color, sawteeth and stars
Racine#3 (retired, with a limited number available here): Crescent Moon and Shining Star
Racine #2 (retired): Pipe and Feather – the other elements are two Navajo weaving combs, and an arrow under the pipe
Racine #1 (retired): Class Y in the Racine catalog, “Yuma” in the Shuler & Benninghofen catalog
Racine Woolen Mills has an interesting intersection with Pendleton’s history. In 1905, Racine Woolen Mills was furiously negotiating to buy a struggling mill in Pendleton, Oregon, with plans to increase trade blanket production by 300 percent. Those negotiations proved fruitless, and the Pendleton mill went silent in 1908. In 1909, Fanny Kay Bishop organized her three sons to take it over and transform it into the company we know today.
If Racine Woolen Mills had purchased the mill, who knows what the Pendleton story would have been?
Did you know that Pendleton holds a World Record? Well, now you know! It’s for a blanket, of course.
We think it’s fitting that the oldest and largest U.S. blanket manufacturer would make the world’s longest seamless wool blanket.
Here are the stats:
Blanket length: 432 feet of seamlessly woven fabric equal to approximately 1 ½ football fields in length. The blanket measured 331,800 sq inches, 2,303 sq feet (more square footage than the average house in Portland, Oregon). The blanket required the fleece from over 50 sheep to produce.
Weight: 380 pounds – so heavy, the blanket was rolled onto a giant spool and transported via forklift.
Woven: This is a Northwest effort; the yarn for the blanket was dyed, carded and spun at Pendleton’s Washougal, Washington mill. The 82% pure virgin wool/18% cotton blanket was woven in our Pendleton, Oregon mill. The blanket was washed, felted and bound in Pendleton’s Washougal, WA mill. Pendleton’s jacquard looms, which were used to weave The Largest/Longest Seamless Blanket required 778 minutes to weave. Typically the looms weave one blanket in 12 minutes.
Pattern: The pattern is an archival design (since retired) that was part of our Heritage line. This is one of Pendleton’s oldest designs, dating back to the early 1900s.
It came to be called the Geronimo pattern after a photo of Chief Geronimo, who was photographed wrapped in a blanket in this pattern.
Chief Geronimo was of the Bedonkohe band of the Chiricahua Apache tribe. His bravery and heroism are legendary. Photo courtesy Barry Friedman
An extremely rare photo of Chief Geronimo and his followers waiting for battle. The Chief stands, unarmed, in front of the mounted warrior. Photo by C. S. Fly, March 1886
What happened to it?
The World’s Longest Blanket visited the World Forestry Center in Portland, Oregon, and the Home & Garden Show. It was eventually cut and sewn into specially labeled throws with black felt binding. The proceeds of this sale went to charity. One of the throws is currently hanging in our Heritage hallway, if you’re ever in the neighborhood and would like to see one.
When Ty Bennet sent us photos of this pristine Packard, we were impressed AND intrigued.
According to Ty, we were looking at the following: 1948 Packard 8 Station Wagon Woodie Woody. Restored. Excellent condition. Lexington Green Metallic paint. Powerful and Smooth Straight 8 engine.
Here’s a photo of that engine…
More from Ty: High Speed rear gear for modern touring. Plaid “Highlander” style interior. Real Wood Northern Birch rails over maple panels. Burl wood grained dashboard and door trim. Radial wide white wall tires. Ready for Summer touring.
This car has beautiful lines and trim.
But here’s a little more visual information on the interior of the car.
Does that upholstery fabric ring a bell? Door panels, too.
Rear interior–even the ashtray is covered in the tartan.
Yes, that is very definitely a Pendleton fabric, a traditional tartan. And look at the label!
A History Mystery
We’ve worked with truck and car companies on co-branded interiors in the past, but we don’t have any information on this particular car. This car is labeled with the special Disney label we used on clothing in our Frontierland Dry Goods Emporium. We don’t know if the fabric was purchased there, or if the car was upholstered as part of a display. Perhaps some fans might have information or memories?
Our president, Mort Bishop III, explained, “I am not aware of this project forWalt Disney. However with our Pendleton exhibit and store in Frontierland we worked closely with Walt Disney…Pendleton was one of the three original lessees in the park when it opened. It would not surprise me if we provided fabric to him for a Packard.”
Birch over Maple wood panels and dash; it’s made like a boat inside–what craftsmanship.
Ty sold the car to a private party at auction. Someone has a nice touring vehicle for all seasons.
September saw the opening of Portland’s Tilikum Crossing, the newest of Portland’s bridges. This one is special for a few reaasons. First, it’s a pedestrian/transit bridge that is only open to pedestrians, the MAX light rail line, buses, bicycles and emergency vehicles. Second, it is named in honor of the people who inhabited this area long before the Jacksons, Hawthornes and Morrisons. Tilikum is a Chinook jargon word that means “people, tribe or family.” It was chosen to honor the Multnomah, Cascade, Clackamas, and other Chinookan peoples who have been here as long as 14,000 years ago.
The name was chosen through an initial round of popular vote, with the final name being chosen by a Trimet committee. The Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde were part of the bridge’s dedication, and donated artwork by Chinook artist Greg A. Robinson. The three pieces are collectively titled, “We Have Always Lived Here.”
Two basalt pillars stand at the east and west ends of the bridge. The bronze medallion, five feet in diameter, hangs at the eastern side of the bridge, facing north. According to the tribe. “The basalt carvings depict Tayi, or headmen, with their people, and the medallion shows Morning Star and her children in the center, which is a reference to the heavens, and Coyote and the first humans on the outer ring, referencing the Earth.”
As part of the opening ceremony for the bridge, The Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde commissioned a limited edition blanket from Pendleton Woolen Mills, incorporating the stunning artwork by Mr. Robinson.
Each blanket bore this special patch.
As we understand it, most of the commemorative blankets were given as gifts, and a small amount were sold on Tilikum Crossing’s opening day. We are so honored to have been asked to participate in this event. Below, enjoy some shots from the bridge’s dedication, including those of the artist being wrapped in another Grand Ronde blanket, and some beautiful closeups of his work. Photos courtesy of Trimet.
We first saw this blanket when Judy Goodman of Joseph, Oregon, contacted us for information on a blanket that belonged to her grandmother, Louise Kelly.
The label identified it as a Rainier National Park blanket, but it’s so very different from our current version that we knew it was a special treasure.
The Expert Weighs In
We reached out to our National Park blanket expert, Fred Coldwell of Denver, Colorado. He identified the blanket right away. Here is his information:
The blanket is Pendleton’s very first Rainier National Park Blanket, No. 18, introduced on February 1, 1928. It had overstitched ends and a border design of flowers (lupine, paint brush and daisy) on one of three color bodies (white, light blue or moss green).
These three flowers are found on Mt. Rainier in these subspecies: Broadleaf Lupine, Dwarf Lupine, Magenta Paintbrush, Scarlet Paintbrush, Subalpine Daisy. They can be seen here under Subalpine flowers in the Blue/Purple Pink/Red folders.
Back to the blanket. Four points (indicating the 66″ x 80″ size) were sewn into the lower left hand corner of the blanket’s large center field. This blanket came in only one size, 66″ x 80″, and was made with virgin wool on a cotton warp. It was wrapped in paper for packing. The wholesale price was $9.00 in 1928 and 1929. This Rainier Park Blanket is listed in Pendleton’s February 1, 1928 Wholesale Price List No. 6 and in the March 1, 1929 Wholesale Price List No. 8. But it had disappeared by 1934-35 when retail Catalog No. 11 was issued. I have no information about it from late 1929 to 1933, but I imagine it was a casualty of the early 1930s Depression.
Ms. Goodman was thrilled to have Fred Coldwell’s information. When we asked her if she’d like to share the blanket on our blog, it spurred her to do some serious family research; not just the names, dates, family tree kind of research, but research into her grandmother’s story. How did she come to the Northwest? How did this blanket tie into her life? The story of a blanket is also the story of the person who owned it. We would like to share Louise’s story, as told by her granddaughter.
My grandmother, Louise Kelly, was born on October 26, 1906 to John and Mattie (Landreth) Evans in Taberville, MO. Like many families of this era, Louise had eleven brothers and sisters. She rode a horse to school and purchased school supplies by exchanging farm eggs at the store. Once she’d finished eighth grade, Louise (at age 12 or 13) had to stay home to care for all the other small children in the family. Some of her brothers were never able to attend school. They stayed to work the farm with their father.
Louise married at the age of 24 and gave birth to her first child (my mother, Wilma) in 1931. My uncle was born a few years later. The family farmed, raised chickens, made their own blankets and clothes, and preserved fruits and vegetables. They managed to survive the Great Depression and were looking at a new future when this photo was taken of Louise in 1941 near Mt. Rainier on a trip to Yakima, Washington.
The family was taken with the West. Eight years later, the family finally saved enough to move there, settling in Zillah, Washington. My mother was a senior in high school when her father suffered a heart attack. My grandmother Louise found herself widowed with two teenagers. She worked two jobs to support her family, running her own morning café and cooking at another restaurant at night.
Percy Kelly was a business man who enjoyed breakfast every morning at my grandmother’s café. He was a potato dealer – buying potatoes right from the field, sorting and bagging them in a warehouse in Toppenish, WA, then shipping by rail using “ice” stops along the way to keep the potatoes cool. He had also lost his wife in 1949. Percy asked Louise out on a date, but she was too busy with work and family. One day at the café, Percy took off his suit jacket, rolled up his shirt sleeves and started to wash dishes with Louise just so he could spend time with her. That was the beginning of their love story, and how this beautiful Pendleton Mt. Rainier Blanket came into my possession.
Percy (who I knew as Papa) and Louise were married in 1951 and moved to the Columbia Basin in 1952. They grew potatoes near Winchester, Washington. Papa was a member of the Washington State Potato Commission. They built their own potato storage and started to ship potatoes. This was the beginning of their potato empire, and their life together. Percy had two daughters who were still in high school at the time. My mother started college and her brother enlisted in the Army.
Louise always loved Mt. Rainier. This photo of the mountain and a CCC camp at its base hung on the wall of her home for most of her life.
It is possible that the Mt. Rainier Park blanket was a wedding gift to Louise and Percy, but more than likely it was a wedding gift for Percy and his first wife in 1929. The blanket remained in the family all of these years. It was often stored in a cedar trunk that came into my possession in 1999 when Louise passed away. “Percy loved beautiful handcrafted things,” his daughter, Jeanette Burk, recently told me in a phone conversation. “He liked well-crafted items made of leather and wool, and he definitely would have wanted this blanket for his family.”
The Blanket Today
So that is the story of one National Park Blanket and the person (and family) it belonged to. The blanket spends most of its time displayed in Judy’s Oregon home. Currently, the blanket is on display at Wallowology (www.wallowology.org) where Judy works. Above it is Louise’s Pendleton 49’er jacket, a beauty that appears to have all its original shell buttons—a rarity. You can pay both of these treasures a visit if you’re in the neighborhood.
Our thanks to Judy for sharing her grandmother’s story and her photos.
In 1999, Pendleton Woolen Mills registered the official Pendleton Tartan with the Scottish Tartans Society. The tartan itself can be seen around the borders of the certificate. This tartan was created to commemorate Pendleton’s roots in the Pacific Northwest and the many generations of family that have overseen Pendleton’s business through the years. The official company tartan also salutes the British Isles origin of Pendleton’s weaving heritage, thanks to our founder, Thomas Kay.
So enjoy National Tartan Day. Wear your plaid with pride, and the next time you go out hunting Pendleton, consider wearing our tartan.
When you think of tartan, you probably think of red and black, or red and green. But there are blue tartans and camel tartans and orange tartans. There are stealthy tartans, like the Black Watch, that are meant for blending ninja-like into the night. And then there’s Buchanan, the rock star of tartans.
In its earliest incarnation, Buchanan was probably a simpler block plaid. As weaving capabilities grew, the pattern took on its present look; a cacophony of colors, flashy, wild, and impossible to miss, whether it’s in a shirt:
Let’s have a little respect for it in the original form, too. The modern kilt stands out when it’s in Buchanan tartan,
even in the tightly pleated kilt worn by the groomsman pictured below:
When it isn’t pleated, the full pattern commands attention:
Sadly, we don’t have anything offered in Buchanan tartan. We last used Buchanan in our Board and Lodge shirts for Fall 2010.
Shot of the Board Shirt in Buchanan Tartan courtesy of Greenspan’s, the Last Original Clothing Store, of Southgate, CA
Here’s the Buchanan Tartan story from the hangtag:
The Clan Buchanan “Buth chanain” is Gaelic for “house of the canon,” which may mean that the first of the Buchanan line was dedicated to the ancient Celtic church. In 1282, Morris of Buchanan received a charter of his lands, including the island of Clarinch. The family’s fortunes were assured by their support of the Bruce cause during the War of Independence, but later reversed. There has not been a recognized Buchanan chief since the late 17th century. Perhaps the most famous Buchanan is the poet and Protestant reformer George, who was appointed a tutor in classics to the young Mary, Queen of Scots. He also served as the tutor to young James IV after the abdication of his mother, laying the foundation for the intellectual acuity of that monarchy.
You have to root for a clan credited with laying the foundation of a monarchy’s “intellectual acuity,” don’t you?
So as you look at this tartan, appreciating the play of bright colors and the way they intensify each other, keep in mind that this is a very old and respected pattern, representing quite a history. And it does everything it can to live up to the Buchanan clan motto: Clarior hinc honos, or, “Hence the brighter honor.”
Ah, Buchanan. You’re wild and you’re bright and you’re extremely traditional, all at the same time.
Some of our readers live, breathe, eat and sleep tartans. They are steeped in their clan histories. They know the difference between the ancient, dress, hunting and standard versions of their clan’s tartan. But other readers aren’t quite sure of what exactly makes a tartan a tartan. How does a tartan differ from any other plaid?
We say it best with the title of one of our most popular Pinterest boards: All tartans are plaids, but not all plaids are tartans. A tartan looks like a plaid, but it is so much more than that. A tartan is a statement of identity. Tartans were originally regional designs, worn as “plaids,” pieces of fabric worn slung over the shoulder. Scotland’s warriors wore their plaids with pride to announce their family affiliations and political loyalties.
The Dress Act of 1746 was enacted to prohibit the wearing of the plaid, as part of colonial suppression of the Highlands: That from and after the first day of August, One thousand, seven hundred and forty-six, no man or boy within that part of Britain called Scotland, other than such as shall be employed as Officers and Soldiers in His Majesty’s Forces, shall, on any pretext whatever, wear or put on the clothes commonly called Highland clothes (that is to say) the Plaid, Philabeg, or little Kilt, Trowse, Shoulder-belts, or any part whatever of what peculiarly belongs to the Highland Garb; and that no tartan or party-coloured plaid of stuff shall be used for Great Coats or upper coats, and if any such person shall presume after the said first day of August, to wear or put on the aforesaid garment or any part of them, every such person so offending … For the first offence,shall be liable to be imprisoned for 6 months, and on the second offence, to be transported to any of His Majesty’s plantations beyond the seas, there to remain for the space of seven years.
That’s right, tartans were illegal; inflammatory and subversive.
In 1782, the Dress Act was repealed through the following proclamation: Listen Men. This is bringing before all the Sons of the Gael, the King and Parliament of Britain have forever abolished the act against the Highland Dress; which came down to the Clans from the beginning of the world to the year 1746. This must bring great joy to every Highland Heart. You are no longer bound down to the unmanly dress of the Lowlander. This is declaring to every Man, young and old, simple and gentle, that they may after this put on and wear the Truis, the Little Kilt, the Coat, and the Striped Hose, as also the Belted Plaid, without fear of the Law of the Realm or the spite of the enemies.
When the Dress Act was repealed in 1782, tartans were no longer worn as ordinary Highland dress. They were adopted as the official national dress of Scotland. Tartan grew from regional plaid to warrior garb to a badge of kinship. These patterns are a visual illustration of the bond between personal and political freedom.
We’re not tartan experts at Pendleton, just fabric experts. When we we use these designs, we do it with respect for the history of the design we’re using. Our designers refer to rare reference books stored under archival conditions in our design department (please don’t ask to see them because they will not hold up to visitors, we have to say no). We also use modern tartans, like Canada’s Maple Leaf, and our own Pendleton Hunting Tartan, registered with the Scottish Tartan Society in 1999.
Tartans have been part of the Pendleton offering since our earliest days, beginning with our motor robes. We call them that because we originally wove them to cover the laps of motorists in the earliest days of the automobile.
We’ve been making tartan shirts, Topsters, motoring caps and robes for men since the 1920s.
Women have always been part of the Pendleton tartan action, as well.
Today, tartans have taken fashion by storm, because these patterns are timeless, we return to them.
If you’re wanting to add tartan, but you’re not sure where to start, try Blackwatch tartan, the tartan designed to look black from a distance.
This is also known at the Government or 42nd tartan, developed to wear by the Black Watch, one of the early Highland Independent Companies. From a distance, the pattern reads black. It’s the stealth tartan. Around here, we call it Highland Camo, and though it’s one one of our perennial bestsellers, it’s a challenge to photograph for a catalog. But we do, as you cansee if you pay us a visit at pendleton-usa.com. We have tartan items galore for women, men, and home.