In 1905 Red Wing, Minnesota shoe salesman Charles Beckman and 14 investors embarked on developing work shoes that were comfortable, durable and safe for workers engaged in the demanding mining, logging and farming industries. He called the company Red Wing Shoes and over a century later Red Wing shoes are still being handcrafted in Red Wing, Minnesota. A little trip to Red Wing Shoes is more than checking out a “Big Boot”. It’s a look into Minnesota’s history and the base on which its future still stands. The second floor of the store is a museum and there are amazing displays showing the past and the present of Red Wing Shoes. You will also find historical items and furnishings on the main floor amidst the merchandise.
In 2007 with 60 volunteers, work began on the 4,000 hour process of designing, engineering and fabricating what was to be the World’s Largest Boot. This boot was fashioned after Red Wing Shoes’ Model 877 work boot which has been worn and is still being worn by millions of construction and farm workers throughout the world. The replica is 20 feet long, 7 feet wide and 16 feet tall and weighs 2300 pounds. To put that in perspective a person wearing the 638D boot would be 120 feet or 12 stories tall.
From its beginning in 1905 Charles Beckman continued to look for new ways to provide comfort and durability for workers in all professions and he succeeded.
All Red Wing boots are literally hand made, from the fabrication to the final stitching. They use the same type of treadle sewing machines that were used in 1905. One of the signatures of a Red Wing boot is the triple stitching. That is done on the machines as you will see the three needles on the machine shown here.
This post is just an abbreviated overview of what you will encounter… there is much, much more to see and learn. I hope you add Red Wing Shoes to your places to visit. You will not be disappointed.
I have never been on the factory tour, but I do plan on doing so in the future.
Starting May 23, 2014 – Factory Tours are available every Friday at 10:00AM (except holidays). Make sure you wear closed-toe shoes! They do not accept reservations.