These Blankets Have Been Through 5 Fires and 2 World Wars
Three words we will gladly wear, or for some, only look for in products are "Made in America". One such product that has lasted on the front lines in two world wars survived 5 fires, and pretty much being packed up and bound for Pakistan would be our namesake blanket. Faribault Woolen Mill Company blankets simply have seen it all.
The Faribault Woolen Mill is historic in its own right as it is one of the only vertically integrated woolen mills still operating stateside. Ironically the blankets blue tag states that it is “loomed in the land of the lakes”, yet they are created along the Cannon River right here in Faribault.
Here are 5 of my favorite things I've learned about the blanket and company since I started working here in January.
1. The blanket has seen front lines action in both World Wars. Approximately 100,000 olive drab army blankets were churned out for our troops in WWI. In WWII, sleeping bags were also produced by the company, as well as another 200,000 blankets. The company continues to this day to supply the U.S. military.
2. The wool blanket isn't afraid to fly. As noted by The Growler the comfortably loomed blankets were quite popular with many airlines in the gilded age of flight, the 1960's and 70's. As those decades "brought in myriad new designs and fruitful partnerships, including Pan Am Airways, Northeastern Airlines, and Pullman Railroads, all of which provided passengers with Faribault blankets to use during trips."
3. Forget fire-proof safes, this company in its history has survived not one or two but FIVE fires! The first three fires happened within the first 40 years of the company when it was located along the Straight River. From 1882 to 1892 fires ravaged the company, in fact in 1892 the building was completely lost! That's when the company moved to its current location, and used brick for the building and stone for the now familiar dam.
4. It started off being all about the horsepower. I mean horse-powered. Yup one-horse powered the woolen mill early one. The owners one horse helped begin the operation by helping to create local wool into insulation and bedding.
5. The Faribault Woolen Mill rises like a Phoenix. In the early 2000s the company which was once family owned was sold to an investment company that attempted to compete with Asia by blending wool with acrylic to cut costs. Once that happened people began to take notice as shoppers and retailers weren’t interested in the lower-quality blankets, and the mill went out of business in 2009. It stayed closed for 18 months. But it was soon purchased by two Minnesota cousins and businessmen who poured a lot of money into the building and company to make it what it is now.
So the next time you pack your bag for deer hunting, or just for a weekend away, think about how much that blue labeled blanket has been through and smile.