Into the Archives: Rare Photos of the Pendleton Disneyland Store

A photo from the Pendleton archives of the Pendleton store in Disneyland: Front window

Archival Treasures

The Pendleton archives hold a lot of history, some of it dating back to our founder’s opening of his own mill in 1863. Some of the most delightful history comes from our association with Disney, which stretches back to the opening of Disneyland in 1955. So here is a peek at these very special archival materials.

We were sent a personal invitation:

letter-from-walt

It’s hard to imagine a time when Disneyland wasn’t a household name worldwide, isn’t it? But we have another letter from our company president, Mort Bishop, referring to an “attached brochure” that explains the Disneyland park. And the letter makes it quite clear that the Pendleton location’s primary function was an exhibit, rather than a store.

So courtesy of photos in our archives, let us take you on a tour of the Pendleton Dry Goods Emporium, as it was called on opening day.

Archival Photos

Excited visitors entered Frontierland for a taste of the Old West.

A photo from the Pendleton archives of the Pendleton store in Disneyland: entrance near the Frontierland gate

And there we were, complete with comfortable benches for whittlers (spittoons are notably absent).

A photo from the Pendleton archives of the Pendleton store in Disneyland: Storefront, the Pendleton Dry Goods Emporium

We proudly displayed the World’s largest Champion Buckle in our window. This was before wrestling belts eclipsed western buckles, of course.

A photo from the Pendleton archives of the Pendleton store in Disneyland: Side window display featuring the Wold's Biggest Cowboy Buckle

Inside the Store

Western wear was a staple of the store. And cowboys were shopping!

A photo from the Pendleton archives of the Pendleton store in Disneyland: Interior, blanket counter

We didn’t just offer western clothing, of course. Pendleton’s famed Turnabout Reversible Skirt and the women’s 49’er Jacket were big hits here.

A photo from the Pendleton archives of the Pendleton store in Disneyland: Women's clothes with reversible skirts

We also sold blankets, boots, hats…

A photo from the Pendleton archives of the Pendleton store in Disneyland: Blanket counter and shirt shelves, with stairway to second floor

…and Levi’s jeans! Pendleton and Levi’s have an association that goes way back. We were both part of the original surfer’s uniform in the Southern California surf scene of the early 1960s. And we’ve done at least four collaborations in the 2000s.

A photo from the Pendleton archives of the Pendleton store in Disneyland: Display with Topster jacket and Levi's

So many Disneyland guest remember visits to the Pendleton Dry Goods Emporium as part of family vacations.

A photo from the Pendleton archives of the Pendleton store in Disneyland: A woman and two gentlemen shopping.

A Special Label

Some of the merchandise at this store carried a special label featuring the iconic Sleeping Beauty’s Castle.

A close view of the special label for Pendleton goods at Disneyland

You can read more about our Disney connection: Pendleton and Disneyland: We Go Way back!

 

Pendleton and Disneyland: We Go Way Back!

A line of models posed in front of the Pendleton store in Frontierland wearing Pendleton clothing (Mickey in the center)

The history of Pendleton Woolen Mills and Disneyland

It all began when Walt Disney extended a personal invitation to be retail partners in the Park. Walt was a fan of Pendleton’s “fleece to fashion” vertical manufacturing, which at the time included ownership of our own flocks and scouring facilities. He saw a fit for us in Frontierland as part of his vision of America’s Wild West.

Happy guests at the wooden stockade gate to Frontierland in Disneyland, circa 1960
A brochure for Frontierland at Disneyland.

The Dry Goods Emporium

We were more than excited to be part of Disneyland. Pendleton established a ‘Dry Goods Emporium’ that opened for business right along with the rest of the park on July 17, 1955.

Disneyland guests outside the Pendleton Woolen Mills Dry Goods Emporium in Frontierland. Photo by daveland.com, used with permission

The store was a rustic wonderland of Pendleton’s woolen products, along with belts, wallets, hats, and other Western-themed merchandise.

Pendleton's Frontierland store in the late 1960s.

Much of the clothing sold in Disneyland had its own special labeling that featured the spires of Cinderella’s castle.

A collage of Pendleton labels that feature the spires of Cinderella's castle and these words: Pendleton WOolen Mills Disneyland (r)alt Disney Productions Frontierland exhibit." This is a special label for products sold at the Pendleton DIsneyland store.

It seems that a new plaid Pendleton shirt was part of the vacation for many young men in America, and the store set a record for sales of Turnabout reversible skirts in the late fifties. Our Disneyland store was phenomenally successful. We had a unique way to share the bounty of the Disneyland store’s sales. Visitors were asked for their zipcodes, and credit for the purchase was awarded to their nearest Pendleton store back home.

Stationery letterhead for Pendleton Woolen Mills that features a drawing of the Pendleton store in Frontierland.

More advertising

It’s said that the family that plays together stays together. Well, what does a family who plaids together do? Whatever it is, this family from 1963 is doing it in Pendleton style.

An ad from 1965 featuring a family of four, all wearing the same blue Pendleton plaid.
A 1965 Pendleton ad featruring various family members dressed alike in Pendleton plaids.

1963 was the year that Clarence M. Bishop took his own Gold Ticket tour of Disneyland. The Bishop family is a hardworking bunch, and when they vacation, they tend to gravitate towards places where they can ride or fish. But Mr. Bishop had a great time in Anaheim, according to all reports.

A photo of the 1965 "Gold Pass" issued to Clarence M. Bishop and party of five to Disneyland, signed by Walt Disney himself.

A black and white photo collage advertising the Pendleton store in Frontierland in the 1980s, showing the Old West interior

Today, and the Heritage Hallway

We’re glad that a trip to the old store remains a favorite memory of so many of Disneyland’s long-time guests. We have been asked, “What happened?” by Disney guests who remember our store with nostalgia. The partnership dissolved amicably when the Disneyland Resort shifted their merchandising focus to more Disney-oriented goods. The store closed in April of 1990. Today, the Bonanza Emporium does carry some Pendleton merchandise, as does Ramone’s House of Body Art.

A side-by-side collage of two shots of the building that housed the Pendleton store in Frontierland - one from the 1950s, when it was still Pendleton's, and one that shows its conversion to "Bonanza Outfitters."

In our Heritage Hallway, you can find a framed letter from Walt Disney about the partnership, and a small bronze of Jiminy Cricket. The letter came to invite us to the official press and television premiere on July 17th, 1955.

A 1955 letter from Walt Disney to Clarence Morton Bishop.

The bronze was a gift to us from Disney.

A side view of a small bronze statue of Jiminy Cricket, gifted to Pendleton by Walt Disney.

Jiminy stands on a matchbox wearing a medallion that says, simply, “30.”

A small bronze statue of Jiminy Circket, given to Pendleton Woolen Mills to mark 30 years of association.

The statue’s inscription reads: “PENDLETON WOOLEN MILLS in commemoration and appreciation of 30 years of association with DISNEYLAND 1955-1985”

Jiminy_inscription

We’re proud of our history with Disneyland, and want to say thanks to all the guests who have made us part of their visit.

It’s a Wrap–Pendleton Mill Tribute Series ends with last Racine blanket

Racine Tribute Blanket

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. 

A pile of four different labels used on Pendleton's Mill Tribute series blankets.

Racine Woolen Mills

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, used in commerce with Native Americans.

A vintage (and somewhat blurry) historical photo of the Racine Woolen Mill.

The Racine Woolen Mill

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.

Archival photo of Native American women wrapped in Racine blankets.

Native American women in Racine’s Ribbon-pattern shawls

Woolen Mill Specialties

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. A Hidatsa man wrapped in one of the Racine blankets.

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.

The Tribute Series Blankets

Racine #8 (now retired): A banded Racine with deep colors and an excellent pattern–complex and beautiful.

Racine Tribute blanket #8

Racine #7 (retired): Muted colors were rare for Racine. The original blanket was woven for Racine Woolen Mills by Shuler & Benninghofen.

Racine Tribute blanket #7

Racine #6 (retired): Tomahawks, Bows and Arrows

Racine Tribute blanket #6

Racine #5 (retired): Banded Diamonds

Racine Tribute blanket #5

Racine #4 (retired): A dizzying array of color, sawteeth and stars

Racine Tribute blanket #4

Racine#3 (retired): Crescent Moon and Shining Star

Racine Tribute blanket #3

Racine #2 (retired): Pipe and Feather – the other elements are two Navajo weaving combs, and an arrow under the pipe

Racine Tribute blanket #2

Racine #1 (retired): Class Y in the Racine catalog, “Yuma” in the Shuler & Benninghofen catalog

Racine Tribute blanket #1

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?

Image of the Pendleton Tribute Series for Racine Woolen Mills designs.

National Tartan Day–It’s Here!

Four men wearing kilts walk down a city street.

What is a tartan?

Thursday, April 6th is National Tartan Day. 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?

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. If you’re not a history buff, but you watch Outlander, you already know this.

Jamie and Claire from "Outlander"

Photo courtesy Sony Pictures TelevisionLeft Bank PicturesStarz

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.

Pendleton and Tartan

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.

Pendleton throw with Leather Stamp Logo

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.

tartan fashions - scarf, pants, jacket, dress

Black Watch

If you’re wanting to add tartan, but you’re not sure where to start, try Black Watch tartan, the tartan designed to look black from a distance (pictured is a vintage Pendleton shirt).

A Pendleton wool shirt in Blackwatch Plaid

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 of our perennial bestsellers, it’s a challenge to photograph for a catalog. But we do, as you can see if you pay us a visit at pendleton-usa.com. We have tartan items galore for women, men, and home.

We hope your National Tartan Day is a good one, and remember: Wear Your Plaid With Pride.

See Pendleton tartan items here: Pendleton and Tartan

Pendleton Mill Tribute Series: J. Capps and Sons – 1892 to 1917

Pendleton tribute series - Capps label.

Tribute to J. Capps

The last mill in our series of blankets paying tribute to the Golden Age of the Trade blanket is the J. Capps and Sons Woolen Mill of Jacksonville, Illinois.

Our friend Barry Friedman, the foremost historian and venerable scholar of Trade blankets, has concluded that the very first blankets manufactured for the Native trade were manufactured by J. Capps and Sons in 1892. Barry has come to this conclusion through painstaking research that only a truly obsessed person would perform, so we trust his findings.

j-cappsmill1865The J. Capps & Sons Woolen Mill in 1865

J Capps History

Joseph Capps arrived in Jacksonville, Illinois in 1839, only 21 years after Illinois became a state. He opened a wool-carding business, to which he would add spinning machines, looms and other weaving machines to become a fully operational weaving mill. As his business grew, so did his family; sons Stephen, William and Joseph would become partners in the firm, and carried on the business after Joseph’s death in 1872.

The Capps & Sons mill produced plain bed blankets, men’s suitings and other woolen goods throughout its years of operation. They also produced blanket overcoats.

Vintage advertising for J Capps and Sons mill.

Production of the Trade blanket ceased in 1917, when the mill’s production was diverted to the needs of WWI.

The first sales records of trade blankets appears in Capps’ business records in 1892. In 1893, the blankets are first mentioned in their marketing materials. The company apparently operated under three names: J. Capps & Sons, Ltd., the Jacksonville Woolen Mills, the American Indian Blanket Mills. To be clear, at no time were Native Americans involved in the design or weaving of these blankets. The patterns were mostly designed by Portuguese weavers who worked at the mill.

j capps cardboard label, illustrated with a Native American.

The Tribute Series

For our Mill Tribute series, we reproduced seven J. Capps & Sons, Ltd. designs. Capps designs remain much the same through their decades of production, and they produced surprisingly few patterns over that time. The designs make little use of the curvilinear abilities of the jacquard loom, keeping to “straight-line” patterns. To quote Barry: “With no other company that produced…blankets over so long a time do we see the continuity of design and pattern…A Capps blanket from 1915 looks very much like a Capps blanket from the 1890s.”

And again, we wish to make it clear that while Native Americans were enthusiastic customers for these elegant blankets, they were not involved in the design or manufacture of these patterns. The Capps names are listed for reference only.

Capps 1 – retired

We chose a rarity for our very first Capps tribute blanket. It is unnamed and uncatalogued in the Capps literature, but was sold in at least three color combinations. The original of this bold and beautiful version was produced circa 1910.

Pendleton Capps Tribute Series number one.

Capps 2 – retired

Capps referred to this as the “Cheyenne Basket pattern, a Riot of Color.” You can see it over the arm of the woman in the ad above.

Pendleton Capps Tribute Series number two

Capps 3 – retired

Capps called this the “Shoshone” pattern, and the orginal version is a favorite among collectors.

Pendleton Capps Tribute Series number three

Capps 4 – retired

This bright design was called “A Typical Moqui” by Capps.

Pendleton Capps Tribute Series number four

Capps 5 – retired

An exciting pattern done in traditional colors, this was a consumer favorite in our Mill Tribute series. In the Capps catalog, it is called the “Kiowa Rattlesnake” pattern.

Pendleton Capps Tribute Series number five

Capps 6available here

Another rarity provided this pattern, called “Navajo” in the Capps literature.

Pendleton Capps Tribute Series number six

Capps 7 – Available here

For our final Capps tribute, we chose the pattern they called “Papago.” The original Capps version is a favorite among collectors of vintage trade blankets for its graphic boldness and overall symmetry.

Pendleton Capps Tribute Series number seven

Learn More

Our thanks to Barry Friedman for his research and writing. You can learn so much more about the Trade Blanket from Barry’s books:

Chasing Rainbows

Still Chasing Rainbows

tribute labels in a stack

Code Talkers: Native Heroes, Never Forgotten

Native American History Month

As part of Native American History Month, we’d like to look back at a favorite blanket, Code Talkers (retired in 2012), which honors the exceptional valor and service of Navajo Code Talkers during WWII.

Pendleton Code Talkers blanket

The Code Talkers

The Code Talkers developed a code that could not be cracked, based on the Navajo language. The (now retired) design shows the Navajo words and their coded meanings, which remained impenetrable to German code-breakers throughout the war.

Navajo coders in uniform

The history of the code talkers  is more riveting than any film or any fiction.  You can learn more at their official site, and  at other sites that tell this fascinating story, which was told in the popular movie “Windtalkers”.

Navajo coders accept honors for their service

They don’t have a Pendleton blanket, but the Choctaw Code Talkers of WWI   deserve recognition for their role. This small group of Choctaw soldiers conveyed crucial information over tapped phone lines.  You can read more about them here, and see a full list of their names.

Choctaw coders in uniform

It is worth noting that these Native American soldiers fought for the USA before they were even granted official citizenship in 1924. In the year 2008, the United Sates Senate and House of Representatives passed legislation to recognize Code Talkers from several nations: Navajo, Choctaw, Comanche and more.

Choctaw coders pose with American flag

Blankets

As the years march on, there are fewer Code Talkers to honor, but these heroes will not be forgotten. Though Code talkers is no longer available, the Brave Star blanket celebrates the patriotism and military service of Native Americans.

Pendleton Brave Star blanket

This contemporary interpretation of the American flag is a celebration of the patriotism of Native Americans. In 1875 Indian scouts carried messages from fort to fort in the West. Native American soldiers saw action with Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders in Cuba. And soldiers from many tribes battled in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf and Iraq. Five Native Americans have been awarded the Medal of Honor for bravery “above and beyond the call of duty.” The design marries modern asymmetry and vintage Americana. The unique striations, using pulled out yarns, reflect an era when dyes were made from plants.

To learn more about the role of Native Americans in America’s defense over two centuries, click here: Native Americans and the US Military

Pendleton Made in the USA label

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

Editor’s 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.

2016 Jackson Sundown blanket

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
541.966.974

Pendleton Mill Store
1307 SE Court
Pendleton, Oregon 97801
541.276.6911

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:

Roy Bishop and Jackson Sundown stand in front of a teepee.

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 poses in his woolly chaps.

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.

Three competitors, one winner.

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.

Jackson Sundown rides Angel, his fierce bucking bronco.

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.

Logo for the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, featuring a silhouette of 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.

Sundown, 1916
Sundown poses with his winning certificate
Jackson Sundown in the cotton shirt with ovals, remade by Pendleton to commemorate the Round-Up centennial. His beaded glove cuffs show him riding.
Sundown in his trademark hat, and another pair of gloves with beautiful beaded cuffs.
Sundown on his horse.
Jackson Sundown

Labor Day: Stories from Pendleton’s People

Labor Day Stories

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”.

A mill display with Chief Joseph Pendleton fabrics.

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.

working loom

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.

brightly colored spools of spun wool wait to be threaded onto a loom
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!

Exterios sign at the Pendleton, Oregon mill store
PWM_USA_label

Pendleton Olympics Blankets from 1932 in 2016

2016 Games Ahead

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 readers who have found some interesting colorations of Pendleton Olympiad blankets.

Paul, of Ahsland, Oregon, found this rarity:

A beautiful Pendleton Olympiad blanket in teal, with a twill weave and an embroidered label.

Beautiful green, and how about those ombred stripes? Nice, yes?

Another rarity

And we also heard from Eric. He read this post and realized he had exactly the kind of rarity we are looking for.

A beautiful Pendleton Olympiad blanket in lavender, with a twill weave and an embroidered label.

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

Here is this 82 year-old collector’s item in use.

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.

A photo from the Pendleton archives, of five men waiting beside a train car that has a banner reading "2 carloads of Pendleton blankets - for the rest of your life - going to the Olympic game Contestants, 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.

A 1932 Olympiad blanket from the Pendleton archives.

Here is a close-up of the label.

Closeup of the blanket 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:

Genuine
OLYMPIAD BLANKET
100% Virgin Wool
1932
PENDLETON WOOLEN MILLS
PORTLAND, OREGON U.S.A.

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

1932_Olympic_Display photo of striped blankets and ladies' coats on mannequins

In 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_Display photo of striped blankets and ladies' coats on mannequins

And 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 PendletonWM@penmills.com.

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

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The Grand Canyon Blanket Goes Home

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

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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.

 

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(source)

The Front Door

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.

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Mary Elizabeth Jane Coulter

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.

  • Hopi House, 1905
  • Hermit’s Rest, 1914
  • Lookout Studio, 1914
  • Phantom Ranch, 1922
  • The Watchtower at Desert View, 1932
  • Bright Angel Lodge, 1935

Her work still stands today, having become an integral part of this vast, commanding landscape. You can learn more here: Mary Elizabeth Jane Coulter

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

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Grand Canyon Park Series: SHOP Grand Canyon from Pendleton

See more work by our Grand Canyon #pendle10park explorer: 

Kristian Irey  

Instagram:  @kristianirey

 

Made in USA label with eagle for Pendleton