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Volunteer Profile: Jim and Ellie Burbank for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Ed. note: 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.

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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.

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Learn more about helping to support our National Parks here.

Sweepstakes for Father’s Day: Pendleton gift card!

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

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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!

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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!

PDX Beer Week: Are You Prepared?

Today, we want to talk about PDX Beer Week. As the website explains,

Portland Beer Week is eleven days of fun, educational, eye and palate opening eating and drinking events in the greatest beer city on earth. More than just a beer festival, Portland Beer Week is a celebration of craft beer culture and all of its tangents from food pairings to beer ice cream, artwork and design, film and science.

You owe it to yourself to check out the events for this, if you’re in Portland or anywhere near it. And of course, we’re so proud of our own newest entry into the world of craft brews, thanks to ROGUE Ales & Spirits.

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That’s right: Rogue’s Pendleton Pale Ale in a special can that features the label and stripe from the Pendleton blanket honoring Oregon’s own Crater Lake.

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The Crater Lake Lodge recently held a tasting, and we got serious thumbs-up for the brew’s crisp, clear, yet complex flavors.

You can find this beer at select Pendleton stores as well as the usual Rogue locations.

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Taking a Blanket Home: Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the #pendle10park explorers

 

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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.

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The Cherokee called the region Shaconage, which translates to “mountains of the blue smoke.”

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The park is home to many beautiful waterfalls that also play a part in creating that wonderful haze.

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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.

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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.

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Incredible shots.

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.

 

 

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Many thanks to our #pendle10park explorer, Ben Matthews.

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See more of Ben’s work here:

Ben Matthews on Instagram 

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Shop Pendleton’s National Park collection here: Great Smoky

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Racine #6 (available here): Tomahawks, Bows and Arrows

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Racine #5 (retired): Banded Diamonds

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

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Racine#3 (retired, with a limited number available here): Crescent Moon and Shining Star

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

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

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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?

 

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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)

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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.

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

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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.

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#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

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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?

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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.

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According to history.com, 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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

 

Spider Rock and the Canyon de Chelly: Canyon Song

53_CACH_BTS_20160329.jpgPendleton Woolen Mills is proud to be part of the National Park Experience series with a new short film, “Canyon Song.”

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Canyon Song follows the Draper family as they practice traditional indigenous farming methods in the Canyon de Chelly Wilderness.

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As a portrait of two young Dine girls, Tonisha and Tonielle Draper, “Canyon Song” artfully positions the historic with the modern. The girls sing songs about social media (you should watch the closing credits to enjoy this) and visit the carnival. Tonisha participates in competitions that showcase understanding and reverence for Navajo culture.

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These girls are the heart of the film, and their smiles, voices and joy will haunt you.

Canyon de Chelly sits in the heart of the Navajo nation. Spider Rock, with spires that tower 800 feet above the canyon floor, is one of the canyon’s most important landmarks. 

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Spider Woman, one of the major Navajo deities, is traditionally said to live at the top of Spider Rock.  In our research, we came across this description of her from an older book of legends:

The people gazed wide-eyed upon her shining beauty. Her woven upper garment of soft white wool hung tunic-wise over a blue skirt. On its left side was woven a band bearing the Butterfly and Squash Blossom, in designs of red and yellow and green with bands of black appearing in between. Her neck was hung with heavy necklaces of turquoise, shell and coral, and pendants of the same hung from her ears. Her face was fair, with warm eyes and tender lips, and her form most graceful. Upon her feet were skin boots of gleaming white, and they now turned toward where the sand spun about in whirlpool fashion. She held up her right hand and smiled upon them, then stepped upon the whirling sand. Wonder of wonders, before their eyes the sands seemed to suck her swiftly down until she disappeared entirely from their sight. (source)

Spider Woman is the original weaver, who wove the web of the Universe. She also played a key role in Earth’s creation as Tawa, the Sun God, sang the world into existence. Spider Woman made a gift of her weaving skills to her people as part of the “Beauty Way,” a Navajo tradition of balance in mind, body and spirit. She also has a fierce aspect. Parents would threaten their children with her wrath:

As children growing up at Spider Rock, Canyon De Chelly and Canyon Del Muerto, our grandmother would tell us of mischievous and disobedient children that were taken to Spider Woman and woven up in her tight weaving, after Talking God had spoken through the wind spirits to instruct Spider Woman on how to find and identify the bad little kids. Spider Woman would boil and eat the bad little kids, that is why there are white banded streaks at the top of Spider Rock, where the bones of the bad children still bleach the rocks to this day. (source)

Now, if that isn’t enough to make you behave…

It is a privilege to be part of a film that celebrates this harsh and beautiful country, and the people who live there. Please enjoy “Canyon Song.”

 

Photos courtesy of The National Park Experience.

See Pendleton’s Spider Rock pattern here: Spider Rock

 

Volunteer Profile: Russ Gibbs for Mount Rainier National Park

Mount_Rainier_from_the_Silver_Queen_PeakOur 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. During this centennial year of the National Park Service, we would like to recognize the efforts of some of the people who help protect America’s Treasures. Today, thanks to the words of Ian Harvey, Volunteer Ambassador at Mount Rainier National Park,  we’re going to learn about a dedicated volunteer by the name of Russ Gibbs.

Russ Gibbs has been a dedicated volunteer at Mount Rainier National Park for the past fifteen years, sharing over 10,000 hours with countless individuals in every aspect of Park operations. Beginning with a spark from a conversation with a Ranger, Russ went from patrolling a seasonally closed section of the park every now and then to being one of the greatest constants in the park’s wildlife monitoring program.

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The largest volcano in the Cascade Range in Washington, Mount Rainier is surrounded with thousands upon thousands of acres of lush subalpine meadows, monstrous old growth forests, and glacial tarns. With 97% of the park being a Designated Wilderness Area, that allows for a safe haven for many creatures. If a visitor is lucky, they may come across an animal or two during their visit to the Mountain, but for Russ, seeing an endangered species like the Northern spotted owl is just another day at the office.

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Much of Russ’s work is with the Division of Natural and Cultural Resources at Mount Rainier. It’s a measure of Russ’s dependability that he was welcomed into programs that work so closely with endangered species. In addition to spotted owls, Russ works alongside Park wildlife technicians and biologists in surveys and studies of pika, harlequin ducks, and many species of amphibians. In fact, Russ’s role in our many programs has grown to be so significant that he is now a senior member of our crews.

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Every year, Russ contributes over 600 hours of service, not only with wildlife surveys, but also through backcountry patrols. These patrols have benefited the park tremendously by providing officials information on flooded buildings, broken gate locks, and heavy snow loading, as well as allowing for a presence in areas that may otherwise go unmonitored during the seemingly endless winters.

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Due to funding restraints Park Service-wide, some crucial positions would go unfilled year after year, if it weren’t for the help of volunteers. Since 2005, Russ has been serving a very important role in the spotted owl survey crew in the park. With these surveys, as well as his many numerous others, Russ has collected data that has vastly expanded our knowledge of the residents of our park, and we are years ahead of where we would be without these contributions.

Thanks to Ian Harvey for telling us about the park, and Russ’s work there. We thank him sincerely for his dedication and commitment. Over 2 million visitors come to Mount Rainier National Park each year, and 10,000 of them attempt to reach the summit of the park’s namesake. The work of volunteers like Russ Gibbs is absolutely essential in the operation and preservation of this wonderful western wilderness.

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Pendleton Parks Collection

Pendleton Picnic: A Trip to Oregon’s Oxbow Park

Spring is here, and it’s time for an adventure! You can join us for the Pendleton Picnic event in our retail and outlet stores, starting today, April 27th, and continuing through May 1st.

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We have so many fun things going on, and we are topping it off with double Perks. So pay us a visit and get your picnic going! You can also enter to win this fantastic gift basket online here: ENTER TO WIN.

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As much as we all want to visit  our National Parks for a day of fun and picnicking, sometimes it’s a long trek to visit one of America’s Treasures. But if you live in the Pacific Northwest, you’re never far from the wilderness.

So let’s stay local, and visit Oxbow Park, one of the Portland area’s regional parks. Oxbow is only 25 miles from downtown Portland. It offers 57 drive-up tent campsites and 10 RV sites, so you can spend the night.  Pack the car, and let’s go!

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This getaway isn’t remote, but it’s restorative to the spirit. Oxbow Regional Park stretches along the Sandy River, near Troutdale. It gets its name for the long, lazy curve that slows the current and makes the river a favorite for summer swimming.

When it’s cooler, the river is perfect for kayaking, boating, tubing and fishing.

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The river might be one of the main attractions, but the park’s thousand acres hold fifteen miles of hiking trails through old-growth forests.

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Bring your bird book. Along the river, you can watch the majestic osprey (also known as the fish eagle) swoop to the river and catch its prey.

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Once you hit the trails, listen and watch for the songbirds that flit among the centuries-old trees.

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While you hike, watch for signs of the mink, beaver, raccoon, deer, elk, black bear and cougar that populate these ancient woods. Please note: pets are not allowed in Oxbow Park for the safety of both domestic and wild animals. No matter how fierce your dachshund might be, a cougar will win. So please leave him at home and tell him about it later.

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The drive-up campsites are all equipped with picnic tables and cooking grills. This is a perfect opportunity for some outdoor cuisine, especially if it involves the Catch of the Day.

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The park is home to the Oxbow Salmon Festival,  one of the most popular fish festivals on the west coast. For two days, as many as 10,000 visitors come to experience spawning salmon, along with music, food, art, storytelling, and a fish maze. The fishing tribes of the Columbia Basin, including the Nez PerceUmatillaYakama, and Warm Springs tribes, host cultural exhibits and activities at the Wy-Kan-Ush-Pum (“Salmon People”) village. This is a chance to learn about traditional fishing methods of the original Americans.

 

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National Park Blankets

Oxbow Park is a beautiful place to experience the sunset with friends.

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And of course, we hope you’ll take us along. We have been making National park blankets for 100 years, but we’ve expanded our offering for 2016, the centennial year of the National Park Service. Every purchase from Pendleton’s National Park collection supports special projects through the National Park Foundation.

Pendleton National Park Collection: SHOP