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Posts from the ‘history’ Category

A new blanket for Jackson Sundown, Pendleton Round-Up Champion

Note: In honor of the new blanket honoring Jackson Sundown, we’re sharing an older post about one of the great riders of the American West. It explains our company’s long and rich connection with the Pendleton Round-Up, and tells the story of Jackson Sundown, a real-life hero and icon of the west.

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Sundown was the first Native American to win the World Saddle Bronc Championship and crowned the All-Around Cowboy at the Pendleton Round Up in 1916…at the age of 53! He was the nephew of Chief Joseph and his life spanned from the Indian Wars to frontier settlement. Pendleton has created a Jackson Sundown blanket that is only available at two locations:

Tamastslikt Cultural Institute
47106 Wildhorse Blvd.
Pendleton, Oregon 97801

Pendleton Mill Store
1307 SE Court
Pendleton, Oregon 97801

Let’er Buck!

The Pendleton Round-up  is going on this week—an amazing rodeo adventure in Pendleton, Oregon. Our designers travel there for inspiration, entertainment, and to watch our westernwear in action on rodeo competitors and fans. Oregon Public Broadcasting has a video titled “Pendleton Round-Up: The Wild West Way”  that’s well worth watching, and Cowboys & Indians magazine has some great background.

Among the historic images, you’ll see this shot:

This is Roy Bishop and Jackson Sundown posing at the Pendleton Round-Up. This image actually made the fashion blogs in 2009, when recreations of Roy Bishop’s fringed coat and Jackson Sundown’s oval-print shirt were part of Pendleton’s Centennial offering. But the story is about more than fashion history. This photo is about rodeo history.

The association of Pendleton Woolen Mills and the Round-Up goes back to the very beginning, when along with his brothers Clarence and Chauncey, Roy Bishop established the first mill at its current location in Pendleton, Oregon. The brothers combined their production and retailing expertise with an idled mill, a river, and fine fleece provided by local wool growers. Back then, PWM was a blanket company. Our first and most valued customer was the Native American, and the Bishop brothers worked hard to fill the strong demand (we still sell approximately 60% of our blankets to Native customers every year).

The Bishops were key to the conception of the first Round-Up. Rodeos are big business now, and they were big business then. It was an undertaking to get to a rodeo, especially for a working cowboy. The Round-Up needed something special to draw the crowd. It was unheard-of to include Native Americans to a Western rodeo, but Roy Bishop rode out to meet tribal leaders and invite their participation. He was politely received and quietly listened to, but he left without receiving a definite answer.

The rodeo’s starting date approached, and still he waited. On the morning before the rodeo began, Roy stepped out on the mill’s loading dock. In the distance, he had his answer when he saw the dust of the tribes as they made their way to the Indian campground. The cooperation between the Columbia Basin tribes and the Pendleton Round-up, unique among modern rodeos, continues to this day.

So what about the other person in this photo?

Jackson Sundown was born Waaya-Tonah-Toesits-Kahn in 1863 in Montana. During the Nez Perce war of 1877, he rode with Sitting Bull, retreating to Canada with the Sioux. He eventually returned to Washington, then to Idaho, then to Montana, supporting himself by working, breeding and breaking horses.

In 1912, at the age of 49, Waaya-Tonah-Toesits-Kahn began entering rodeo events in Canada and Idaho using the name Jackson Sundown. The crowds went wild when he tied his braids under his chin, lifted his sombrero and started the ride, his wooly angora chaps streaming.

He took so many prizes that other riders refused to challenge him. Stock owners pulled their animals when they saw his name on the list of possible riders, as after Jackson Sundown rode a horse, it might be so thoroughly mastered that it never bucked again.

Jackson Sundown entered the Pendleton Round-Up several times, placing but not winning. In 1915, in a controversial decision, he placed third and decided to retire from rodeo riding. But a sculptor named Alexander Phimister Proctor prevailed upon him to try one more time. In 1916, he did. Jackson Sundown came out of the gate on a horse named Angel, and the spectacular ride that followed has become legendary. The crowd went wild, and threatened to take down the grandstands board-by-board if Sundown wasn’t awarded the title he had so clearly won.

At twice the age of his competitors, the lanky six-foot tall Indian not only won the bucking championship, but the all-around title as well. He lived out his life on the Nez Perce reservation, raising horses and passing on his skills until his death in 1923. He’s been inducted into more rodeo and athletic halls-of-fame than we have space to list. He is a key character in a novel by Ken Kesey, The Last Go ‘Round.

Jackson Sundown is also featured in a terrific documentary called “American Cowboys.” This is a detailed look at the frustration of competitive riding for contestants of color. It was playing at the Tamastslikt Cultural Center just outside Pendleton, which is a fantastic place to learn about the history of the tribes of the Columbia Basin. It may or may not be part of their permanent installation, but this documentary includes footage of Sundown riding. Sadly, photographs of him riding rare; this may be the only one.

It is sad that a man who possessed such incredible skills in horsemanship isn’t shown during more of his competitive rides. But there are plenty of images of Jackson Sundown showing his deep understanding of a wardrobe’s role in a great performance. Chaps, hat, and that aloof expression. Jackson Sundown had it all, a fact well-illustrated by this logo for the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. Yes, that is Jackson Sundown.

So today, in honor of the Pendleton Round-Up, please enjoy these images of Jackson Sundown; Nez Perce warrior, compatriot of Sitting Bull, bronc rider, horse breeder, main character, documentary subject, fashion blog icon, Round-Up Champion and Inductee into the Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.

And a true proponent of individual style.







Labor Day: Stories from Pendleton’s People

Ed. note–For Labor Day, we bring you stories by those who work for us day and and day out. Their employment with out company ranges from one to fifty years. The video above, filmed in one of our union mills, is by Jay Carroll (thanks, Jay). 

Amanda Coppa—Product Manager, Home Division—July 2007 through present

My career experience at Pendleton has been an excellent and unique one. In nearly nine years with the Home Division I have continually evolved my position. Starting as the Home Merchandise coordinator and today I manage all the in-line and custom/collaboration Product Development for the division. I feel very fortunate to have a role where every day I am doing something different. When I started I was told I would be wearing a lot of hats. I’ve always found this appealing in a job and wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m fortunate to work for a boss that has much confidence in our abilities and vision.

In addition to exploring new product categories, I love working on the custom and collaboration blanket and fabric developments. I am the liaison between the partner (Levis, UGG, Nike, Ace Hotel, Subaru and Poler for example) and our internal Pendleton teams – Fabric Design, Production and Sales. From a custom blanket or fabric to a hooded Poncho towel I handle the process from concept to production set-up. Another exciting part of my position is traveling to accounts for sales calls and tradeshows. This has taken me to many big cities, but also some places I never thought I would go… Dodgeville, WI – High Point, NC – Buffalo, NY.

One of the reasons I enjoy working here the most is my team I spend each and every day with. We not only do good work, we have fun doing it. I have quite a few great Pendleton memories, but the top three would be managing the Star Wars project, my first inspiration trip to the Southwest and the 2009 Sales Meeting in Pendleton, OR to celebrate our centennial. I know I’m in the right place and speak enthusiastically about my career when my 3 year old son already has a passion for what I do and had decided his first dog’s name is going to be “Pendleton”.


Brooke Myers—Retail Store Associate, Lancaster, PA—2015 through present

When I was younger, I did not necessarily see myself working in retail. As most children do, I saw myself doing something big – something exciting, something that would keep me on my toes and intrigue me every day. These descriptions usually do not come to mind when one says they work in retail. Working for Pendleton Woolen Mills has been a completely different experience. Who would have thought that you could be not only a salesperson, a manager; but also a historian, an explorer, and lastly a valued member of a family – not just another employee? My experience working for Pendleton has not been an ordinary one and I mean that in the best way possible.

Rich in history and heritage, the story of this company has captivated me from the beginning. Every day that I come to work I am eager to find out more. From its origins in North American exploration, Native American trade and legend, to the evolution of men’s and women’s fashion and style, the Pendleton story is not one easily forgotten. It brings me so much fulfillment to learn about the roots of this company and share the many stories of our past with others.

Another component of the multi-faceted brand of Pendleton that continues to make every day of work rewarding is the emphasis and dedication to our National Parks. By creating excitement through product and educating others about our parks, we are not only contributing to our parks monetarily but cultivating an environment that stresses the importance of the preservation and protection of our beautiful country.

Since I have started working for Pendleton Woolen Mills a little over a year ago, I can confidently say that I am now intertwined and attached to the history, craftsmanship, and uniqueness of this company. It makes my job easier knowing that I am part of a family that is dedicated to not only their brand and product, but also their employees and customers.


Lakshmi Sylvie Dady—2015 through 2016

Pendleton has been a part of my family since we migrated to this country from Guyana, South America two generations ago. It has been a great joy to continue the family tradition of working in textiles and fashion as a Pendleton employee. Although I am new to the company, the brand has a rich history that transcends corporate identity and is part of my family’s story.

Having owned her own accessory company in Guyana, South America, my German-born grandmother was immediately drawn to the Pendleton brand upon her arrival to Milwaukie, Oregon. She encouraged my mother to get an after school job in the Pendleton mill near their home. My mother, then a mere 16 years of age, quickly learned the hard work that goes into producing the high quality Pendleton products our family coveted. Mama went on to a career in nursing and eventually followed in her mother’s footsteps of owning her own company, manufacturing fashion forward scrubs called “It’s What’s on the Inside that Counts.” Surely her humble beginnings in the mill helped build the foundation for creating her own textile business years later.

Growing up in the Northwest, Pendleton is as much a part of being an Oregonian as is relishing the rain. From my Native best friend whose parents draped themselves and their home in the rich colors and patterns of Pendleton to receiving a full outfit from the company as a Rose Festival Princess in 2009, Pendleton patterns are the unofficial flag of this fine state. Going into the corporate office to get custom fitted for my Pendleton outfit as Cleveland High Schools Rose Festival Princess remains a highlight of my experience on the court. I still relish my sesquicentennial ‘Spirit of the People’ patterned skirt, glass case, notebook cover and purse gifted by the company. The company went so far as to sew custom labels with our title and name onto our skirts, I smile every time I see my “Princess Sylvie” tag.

My love for this brand has only grown over time and gifts from it continue to be highly valued amongst my family. Upon my return to Portland after 7 years away for undergrad and graduate school, I was thrilled to see a position open at the Pendleton store at the Portland International Airport. I’ve been with the company since March, 2016 and thoroughly enjoy continuing the family tradition of working for America’s greatest woolen mill.

It’s been a pleasure reflecting on my Pendleton story and I hope you feel inspired to continue creating yours.


Verna J. Ashton—1966 through 2016 with assistance to:

Strategical Services Head, Ed Pedley

Fabric Design Dept. Head, John Jouret

Presidents C.M. Bishop, Jr. and C.M. Bishop III


Although the scrapbooks confirm a mid-60’s employment record with Pendleton Woolen Mills, my personal connection begins a few years earlier.  When I met my future husband, Richard Ashton, at High School, his father, Howard Ashton, worked for the Bureau of U.S. Customs and his office just happened to be located on the 2nd floor, NE corner of the old / former US. Custom’s Building directly across the street West of the current Pendleton Building (if he were still there, my office window would have looked directly into his!).  He often told us of his travels for the day and related several times when he was assigned to go to the docks to inspect bales of wool being brought into the country from Australia or New Zealand to be delivered to Pendleton’s Columbia Wool Scouring Plant – beginning the process of becoming fine woolen fabrics.  Additionally, my future Mother-in-law, Marion Ashton, worked as a spinner at Pendleton’s Foundation Factory Plant and it was there that she obtained fabrics for hand-sewn shirts for her son and gave me the remnants so I could make matching garments.  Our matching outfits were always commented on at school and especially the red/black plaids worn on “spirit day” as those were our school colors.

Connections first through the Ashton family, and yes, Richard too was employed summers and even refinished the wood floors in the Foundation Plant along with the Brot Bishop boys; but it was through my sister, Malinda Pfeifle Staples, that I became acquainted with Pendleton as my employer as she held the secretary position under Ed Pedley in Statistical Services. In April 1966 I had a choice to make – either continue studies at Portland State College or take the offer at Pendleton to work for Mr. Pedley – my sister was leaving to begin her family.  Thus began a life journey that though the formal career has now officially concluded with retirement on April 29th, I am in the finishing room. The friendships, relationships, business associations and memories are completing my life-story tapestry by attaching the binding edges.

My story begins with being honored to meet and know C. M. Bishop until his passing in 1969; a never-to-be forgotten innocent and embarrassing blunder voiced during a National Sales Meeting at Salishan Lodge (Coffee, Tea or… how does that go?!); Shorthand learned in High School proved invaluable when asked to take notes from the Ambassador to Romania (Alan Green) while vising with his friend C. M. Bishop,  Jr.; Sitting at the feet of Ms. Pat Mitchell (who had been secretary to C. M. Bishop) learning valuable history, skills and understanding.  Pat will celebrate 107 years of life this August; Letters and phone calls to our Nation’s President George Bush (the elder Bush) as well as many other US Representatives, State Governors and political figures who were friends to the Bishop family; Assisting Portland’s current First Lady, Nancy Hales, in her mission for Pendleton gifts to take abroad for government dignitaries on the Mayor’s travels, and garments to wear herself – a true Pendleton Ambassador; Relationships with Round-Up personalities, Queen Whitney White in 2007, Native American Elders…

But long before hearing Mr. B’s (C.M. Bishop, Jr.) 1993 corporate speech quoting  a 1941 inscription written to him by his Father, C. M. Bishop, on the flyleaf of his co-authored book “Pioneer Woolen Mills in Oregon,” I felt and experienced these words  “… the best inheritance to receive or to leave is a good name” lived out not only through the Bishop men and Management of the Company, but also every one of the women – wives, aunts, sisters, and daughters – in their consistent and constant sweet spirits, graciousness and courtesies. “ I subscribe to a belief that as Pendleton has been blessed with the ability to create through the woven thread beautiful fabrics and designs that many covet, cherish and last a lifetime, God is weaving our life-story through our relationships and responses to His shuttle.

Pendleton Woolen Mills and the Bishop family have and are leaving that good name and reputation for future generations.  Honesty, integrity, the Golden Rule standard are the legacy that keeps Pendleton great and America strong.  God bless America and God bless Pendleton Woolen Mills.  Cheers!






Taking a Blanket Home with a #pendle10park Explorer: Yosemite National Park

Taylor_IMG_9272_BYosemite Valley, carved by glaciers and the Merced River, came to public attention in the 1860s, through the journalistic efforts of a Scottish immigrant named John Muir. He wrote countless articles describing the wonders of Yosemite, raising awareness that helped contribute to the eventual preservation of the area for generations to come.


Yosemite is not America’s first National Park. The Yosemite wilderness and Mariposa redwood grove were designated as protected wilderness areas in 1864, with legislation signed by President Abraham Lincoln. But Yellowstone National Park was created a full eighteen years before Yosemite.


The original wilderness did not include Yosemite Valley and its world-famous landmarks—El Capitan, Half Dome and Yosemite Falls. The park as we know it was expanded after Teddy Roosevelt asked John Muir to guide him on a camping expedition to Yosemite in 1903.


Their night in the Mariposa Grove inspired one of Teddy’s most memorable quotes, in which he compared his night in the grove to “lying in a great solemn cathedral, far vaster and more beautiful than any built by the hands of man.” Muir lobbied the president to expand the park to include lands already in California’s possession, and in 1906, President Roosevelt signed a law that brought the Yosemite Valley under federal jurisdiction.

Here at Pendleton, we’re dismayed to write this, but domesticated sheep were once the primary threat to Yosemite. One threat? Shepherds who set meadow-fires to promote the growth of more edible grasses for their far-ranging flocks. The sheep caused trouble, too, destroying sub-alpine meadows and passing diseases to the native bighorn sheep. This prompted naturalist John Muir to call them “hoofed locusts.”


The original Yosemite Park Rangers were Buffalo Soldiers. According to the Yosemite National park website:

Buffalo Soldiers, like their white counterparts in U.S. Army regiments, were among the first park rangers, in general, and backcountry rangers, in particular, patrolling parts of the West…Approximately 500 Buffalo Soldiers served in Yosemite National Park and nearby Sequoia National Park with duties from evicting poachers and timber thieves to extinguishing forest fires. Their noteworthy accomplishments were made despite the added burden of racism.

You can read the entire (fascinating) history, listen to a podcast and watch a video of a modern-day re-enactor who works in Yosemite here: Yosemite’s Buffalo Soldiers .

Another item of interest? The Buffalo Soldiers inspired the traditional Park Ranger hat. Many were Spanish-American War veterans who had shielded themselves from tropical rains of Cuba and the Philippines by pinching their high-crowned, broad-brimmed hats into symmetrical quadrants. This distinctive peak was known as the “Montana Peak” on the home front, and eventually became part of the National Park Service ranger uniform.


Some Yosemite numbers:

Over 4 million visitors arrive each year to experience the 747,956 acres of wilderness, on 840 miles of hiking trails.

The mountains at Yosemite national park are still growing at a rate of 1 foot per thousand years.

Yosemite Falls is one of the tallest falls in the world, 2425 feet in height. That means in 1000 years, it will be 2426 feet tall, but of course we won’t be around to see that.

There are three Sequoia groves in Yosemite. Sequoias are the largest living things on the planet, with some reaching 300 feet in height, living for 3,000 years.

At 4000 feet high, El Capitan is the largest block of granite in the known world.


Are you ready for your own adventures? We’d love to come along. And remember, your purchase of our National Park Collection helps support preservation and restoration of America’s Treasures.



Yosemite Blanket photos: Allie Taylor @alliemtaylor

Pendleton Olympics Blankets from 1932 in 2016

It’s an exciting time, with competition and medals ahead. To celebrate, we’re taking a look back at our Olympic blankets, shipped for the Games of 1932. That post is below, but before you read it, please enjoy some photos sent to us by Eric. He read this post and realized he had exactly the kind of rarity we are looking for.


We aren’t sure how many colors we made in this blanket and this is the first lilac version we have seen!

Here is a slide show of this 82 year-old collector’s item in use.

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And now–let’s learn about Pendleton’s Olympiad blankets.

In 1932, we won the commission to provide blankets to the Olympics. Here is a photo of the blankets leaving on a train for Los Angeles.


There are several known colorways for these blankets. In our archives, we have only one, with a very warm color scheme. There are also a light blue and a brights-on-white patterns out there, but we haven’t been able to track down examples. There might even be more. Here is our archival blanket.

WEB_1932 Olympic blanketHere is a close-up of the label.


That’s a VERY CLOSE close up, isn’t it? Even so, the label is worn enough that you might want the label’s text:

100% Virgin Wool

Olympic fever is nothing new, and Pendleton traded on it with themed displays.

1932_Olympic_Display1In the displays, mannequins wear tasteful blanket coats that look modern. We are not sure if those were sewn and offered for sale by Pendleton, or sewn just for display to encourage consumers to get creative with the blankets. Pendleton did manufacture labeled blanket coats for women over the years, but our first women’s sportswear line debuted in 1949 with our 49’er jacket as the centerpiece.

1932_Olympic_Display2And yes, at $7.95, you can’t beat that price.

If you have an example of the other colors of the Pendleton blankets, drop us a line (as Eric did when we ran this post back during the Russia Olympics). We would love some color photos of other examples. Write to us at [email protected] .

Pendleton Experiences in the Grand Canyon

It’s one of the seven natural wonders of the world; 277 miles long and up to 18 miles wide, the Grand Canyon took millions of years to form and just keeps changing. The deepest point in the canyon is a mile deep. A mile. That’s 5,280 feet, in case you’ve forgotten. Yes, this is one heck of a canyon.

Close to five million people visit the Grand Canyon each year. They arrive by car, train and bus, and plenty of them come to stay for longer than an afternoon. The Park has many wonderful campgrounds, but read up on reservations, restrictions and costs. The key word to get the most out of the Grand Canyon is simply “planning.”

We asked some of our fantastic Pendleton people if they’d share their Grand Canyon experiences on the blog. They sent some beautiful photos, and some Pendleton employee park memory stories that illustrate how they took on the Canyon.

Phillip shared his experience with camping on the North Rim:

A few years ago my family took a road trip to the Southwest and visited Bryce Canyon, Zion and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. It was an amazing family adventure.

Wiant Family Zion


When we arrived at the Grand Canyon and were setting up camp, we realized that my son Henry had forgotten to stow the crank that raises our tent trailer when we left our previous location (I think it was Zion). We polled all of the other campers and no one had a crank. Fortunately I was able to use a wrench to raise the trailer so we didn’t have to leave or sleep on the ground! 

The trip was definitely worth it.

North Rim Henry & Violet 2

North Rim Henry & Violet 1

Another Pendleton person, Annetta, has taken trips with her extended family to many of the National Parks.

Hiking with my son and our entire family, especially nieces and nephews, has bonded us through some unique experiences. The National Parks have been a big part of it.  Every get-together something comes up from one these trips, generating lots of laughter.

In 2004, we all went to the Grand Canyon. Me, my son, all my siblings and their kids hiked down Bright Angel trail to Phantom Ranch to spend the night.

Below: the kids on Silver Bridge crossing the Colorado to Phantom Ranch.

Kids at Silver bridge

We might be smiling, but it was 118 degrees down by the water that day, and we still had several miles to go. Brutal.

The group got ahead of me on the way to Phantom Ranch and because we were so close we didn’t follow our rule and give the last person in line (me) the second walkie-talkie. I missed the turn, ending up on Black Bridge. I yelled down at river rafters for directions. When I realized I’d gone a quarter mile in the wrong direction, the walls of the Canyon echoed with words that are probably not printable.

My son did come back to find me, and very relieved to see me, and not happy about backtracking. The hike is 12 miles each way! We all agreed that the dinner that night at the ranch was the best we had eaten in our lives. No doubt the hike had something to do with that.

Below, all of us at Phantom Ranch on the morning of hiking out.  It was a very quiet breakfast, as we were all thinking about that climb. But we made it!

Grand Canyon Phantom ranch

After hiking out that morning my nephew took his pipes and played them at the canyon edge in the evening. Ah, the energy of youth. 

Kyle and his pipes

Which brings me to my best tip for hiking the Grand Canyon: Take teenagers along who can pack your extra water.

The only place in the world that you can get hiking sticks with Phantom Ranch burned into them is at the ranch itself.  The kids all still have theirs and use them to this day on other hikes with pride. When people ask about those walking sticks, the kids say casually, “Oh this? Yeah, I got it at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.”

Are you ready for your own adventures? We’d love to come along. And remember, your purchase of our National Park Collection helps support preservation and restoration of America’s Treasures.


Taking a Blanket Home: Grand Canyon National Park and the #pendle10park Explorers


We sent our Grand Canyon blanket home to Grand Canyon National Park with photographer Krisitan Irey, celebrating 100 years of our National Park Service.


Kristin’s thoughtful shots at the rim of this natural marvel are some of our favorites. And the Grand Canyon is one of the recipients of our fundraising efforts. All year, through sales of our own and collaborative National Park projects, we have been raising money to help restore the Grand Canyon’s train depot.




The Grand Canyon Depot in Grand Canyon Village is the Park’s “front door,” used as a meeting place for adventurers for over 100 years. This National Historic Landmark is the Park’s most-photographed man-made structure.  Pendleton’s contributions will help improve accessibility and preserve the character of this National Historic Landmark.

According to the National Park Service, “Nearly 230,000 visitors per year arrive at the Depot via the Grand Canyon Railway, which is an important component of the park’s transportation system. Currently the Grand Canyon Railway, owned and operated by Xanterra Parks and Resorts, runs up to two trains per day to the park from Williams, Arizona – saving approximately 300 daily vehicle trips during the peak visitor season.” That is approximately 50,000 cars, trucks and campers that will not add wear, tear and crowding to roads leading in and out of the park, thanks to the train.


Before the railroad opened in 1901, tourists had to fork over $15.00 for a three-day stagecoach ride to see the Grand Canyon. Upon arrival, they were accommodated in tent camps, a situation that didn’t change until the Santa Fe Railroad hired architect Mary Elizabeth Jane Coulter to design six iconic buildings for the park, mostly on the South Rim.

Her work still stands today, having become an integral part of this vast, commanding landscape.


So put on your boots, hop on the train, and go. The Grand Canyon is waiting.


Grand Canyon Park Series: SHOP

Grand Canyon #pendle10park explorer: Kristian Irey  Instagram:  @kristianirey

Sweepstakes for Father’s Day: Pendleton gift card!

We are hosting a gift card giveaway, in honor of Father’s Day.

gift card

It’s easy to enter, easy to win and so much fun to spend: ENTER

What would you get your dad? After all, Dads are pretty amazing.

Before you can walk, Dad is there to carry you.

Connections make the season special. Photo by: @grace_adams #pendleton #littleones #family #generations #outdoor

A photo posted by Pendleton Woolen Mills (@pendletonwm) on

Later, Dad is right behind you, making sure you stay on the path.


For all the dads in the world, thank you and take it easy!


Photo by Kristina Dolly Danitz Photography

Click the image below to see a slideshow of Pendleton Dads. And Happy Father’s Day from Pendleton Woolen Mills!

Mill Tribute Blankets by Pendleton: Racine Woolen Mills of Racine, Wisconsin

In 2010, Pendleton Woolen Mills introduced our Tribute Series, paying homage to four of the American Mills that thrived during the Golden Age of Native American 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 Native American Trade blankets.


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 friend Barry 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.

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?




The Wild Splendor of Oregon’s Crater Lake

On a clear day, the waters of Crater Lake are a shade of blue seen nowhere else. The depth of the lake, the purity of the water and the clean Oregon skies are the source of this unearthly hue. You really have to see it to believe it.

Crater Lake sits almost two thousand feet above sea level and is the deepest lake in the United States. As the National Park Service says, “Crater Lake has inspired people for thousands of years. No place else on earth combines a deep, pure lake, so blue in color; sheer surrounding cliffs, almost two thousand feet high; two picturesque islands; and a violent volcanic past. It is a place of immeasurable beauty, and an outstanding outdoor laboratory and classroom.” (source)

Crater Lake, Oregon

(photo source)

Of all the beautiful Oregon locations seen in the movie “Wild,” it is Cheryl Strayed’s slow saunter across the backdrop of Crater Lake that elicits the strongest audience response.


It’s really that blue-and that’s the blue we chose for our Crater Lake National Park Series blanket.


Crater Lake formed in the collapsed caldera of Mount Mazama, an ancient volcano. It is not fed by any streams or tributaries. The 4.6 trillion gallons of water contained in the lake accumulated through 7,000 years of precipitation, and some sub-surface seepage. This accounts for the water’s unbelievable purity.

The lake contains two islands. Wizard Island is a volcanic cinder cone formed by continued eruptions after the collapse of Mount Mazama. Its picturesque name comes from an earlier time in Crater Lake’s history, when the lake was named the “Witches Cauldron.” That name didn’t stay, but Wizard Island’s name did remain. Crater Lake’s other island, Phantom Ship, is a rock formation that looks exactly like a pirate ship sailing on the lake’s surface if you tilt your head and squint a little, and believe.

You don’t have to hike to enjoy this park’s best view. It’s possible to drive right to the Crater Lake lodge and visit a patio that stretches across the back of the lodge. There you can sit in one of the rocking chairs, order a huckleberry martini and toast the best view in Oregon. And if you’re ready for outdoor action, Crater Lake offers hikes, bike rides around the rim, hikes and boat tours that include a stop on Wizard Island. If you do travel by boat, keep your eye out for “The Old Man of the Lake,” a hemlock stump that has been bobbing around the lake for over a century.

The Klamath and Modoc tribes consider Crater Lake a sacred site, and have myths about its creation. Because of the scientific accuracy of the Klamath myths, it’s believed that tribal members witnessed the creation of the lake and fashioned their sacred stories accordingly. You can read more here: Sacred legends of the Klamath   and here: Science and Myth, the creation of Crater Lake.

It was a cloudy day when Kyle Houck, our #pendle10park explorer, took the Crater Lake blanket home for a visit. As you can see from Kyle’s shots, the park is still beautiful.



#pendle10parks photos by: @KYLEHOUCK

Find out more about our Crater Lake blanket here: Crater Lake

Share a Crater Lake/Rogue River adventure with Greg Hatten: WoodenBoat Adventures



Teddy Roosevelt and the Teddy Bear

The Teddy bear is a childhood constant; a quiet and cuddly friend to children for generations. But do you know where the Teddy bear got his name?


President Theodore Roosevelt was invited to go bear hunting in November of 1902 by Mississippi Governor Andrew H. Longino. The hunting party hunted in the woods near Onward, Mississippi. When the President, a noted sportsman and accomplished big game hunter, had not located a bear, the hunting party decided to take matters in hand. His assistants cornered a black bear and tied it to a tree. All President Roosevelt had to do was fire a single shot to bag his trophy. But Teddy Roosevelt was offended by the lack of sportsmanship in this enterprise, and refused to take his shot.

Of course, the public loved this story. Teddy Roosevelt was a dashing figure, well known for his years as a Rough Rider. His romantic writings about the American wilderness helped to inspire the creation of our system of National Parks. His steadfast insistence on sportsmanship on the hunt inspired newspaper articles and a famous cartoon by cartoonist Clifford Berryman.


According to, what came next was a national toy craze:

Inspired by the cartoon, Brooklyn, New York, shopkeeper Morris Michtom and his wife Rose made a stuffed fabric bear in honor of America’s 26th commander-in-chief and displayed it with a sign, “Teddy’s bear,” in their store window, where it attracted interest from customers. After reportedly writing to the president and getting permission to use his name for their creation, the Michtoms went on to start a successful company that manufactured teddy bears and other toys.



Meanwhile, around the same time the Michtoms developed their bear, a German company founded in 1880 by seamstress Margarete Steiff to produce soft toy animals began making a plush bruin of its own. Designed in 1902 by Steiff’s nephew Richard, who modeled it after real-life bears he’d sketched at the zoo, the mohair bear with jointed limbs debuted at a German toy fair in 1903. ()

“Teddy’s bears” were an immediate and enduring hit with children.


They even inspired their own book series about the Roosevelt Bears! Author Seymour Eaton expounded on the international adventures of two bear cubs. Read about these books and see their absolutely charming illustrations here: Roosevelt Bears


Teddy bears remain one of the world’s favorite toys, and here at Pendleton, we have our own favorites. Our Teddys are National Park Teddys, to honor the president and the parks he helped inspire. We have bears for Glacier, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone (a grizzly, of course), and Badlands parks.


We love their park-stripe hats and muffflers, their huggable tummies, but most of all we love their floppy feet.

You can learn more about our bears here: Pendleton Teddy Bears