Pendleton Woolen Mills Brings Back Mill Tours

In the mid 1960s, Pendleton was one of hundreds of American made clothing manufacturers.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Pendleton Woolen Mills, the historic American woolen company, has resumed mill tours at their Washougal, Washington and Pendleton, Oregon factories. The mill tours show the entire vertical operation that brings Pendleton wool blankets and fabrics to life.

“We are excited to be able to welcome guests into both of Pendleton’s mills again,” said Rolan Snider, vice president of textile manufacturing at Pendleton, in a P.R. Newswire release.

The mill tour in Washougal, Washington walks guests through every step in the making of Pendleton wool blankets and fabric. This includes:

  • Raw wool: sourced from local and global wool ranchers
  • Dyeing: state-of-the-art dye color lab to ensure color control and matching
  • Wool carding and spinning: turning wool into yarn
  • Weaving on dobby looms: creates Pendleton’s famous plaids, stripes and solids
  • Finishing touches: washing, hand inspection and boxing

The mill tour in Pendleton, Oregon offers a look at Jacquard looms, where two-story looms weave graphic and pictorial designs. It also shows wool spinning.

The Pendleton mill dates from 1893 and has been operating as Pendleton Woolen Mills since 1909. The Washougal mill was acquired by Pendleton Woolen Mills in 1912. During this time, there were over 1,000 woolen mills operating in America’s 46 states. Today, Pendleton operates two of the remaining four woolen mills in the United States.

Pendleton was not just known for the quality of its fabrics and yarns. It also had a unique fashion perspective, which created trends and beloved looks through its over century of product.

Pendleton Woolen Mills Gather blanket designed by Diné artist Emma Robbins in partnership with DigDeep’s Navajo Water Project.

This Feburary, the company announced a special Navajo blanket, created to raise money for a water project. The designer of the blanket was Emma Robbins, a Diné artist, activist, founder of The Chapter House, and the Executive Director of DigDeep’s Navajo Water Project.

“We are honored to partner with Emma Robbins and DigDeep’s Navajo Water Project to create the ‘Gather’ blanket,” said Pendleton CEO John Bishop in a release at the time.

The region was home to dozens of mills, now defunct. In 1923, there were 13 woolen mills in operation on the West Coast. A Sellwood, Oregon mill manufactured worsted yarns for cloth weaving and knitting. Another of the mills was the Pendleton Mill, which was known for both fashions, and for Indian robes and blankets. The oldest West Coast mill was the Bishop Woolen Mills in Oregon City, Oregon. They were known for exports to Alaska, Siberia and Russia.

Pendleton has been the most enduring name in American woolens.

“The mills offer an experience into the commitment, experience, quality and investment in technology that has given the brand its “Warranted to Be” legacy,” said said Snider. “Within each mill, the looms present a unique view into the craftsmanship behind how Pendleton fabrics are created.”

The Washougal Mill is located at 2 Pendleton Way, Washougal, Washington 98671. Tours are offered at the Washougal Mill on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday at 11a.m. and 1p.m. The Pendleton Mill is located at 1307 SE Court Place, Pendleton, Oregon 97801. Tours are offered at the Pendleton Mill Monday through Friday at 11a.m. and 3p.m.

Tours are around one hour long and are free of charge. Guests are also invited to shop at the Mill stores, which are located on the same grounds as the mills. A glimpse of what guests experience on a mill tour is available to view here. To sign up for a mill tour, guests can either fill out an online form or call the Washougal Mill at 360-835-1118 or the Pendleton Mill at 541-276- 6911.

About Pendleton Woolen Mills

Vintage ad for Pendleton Cayuse Blazer.

Pendleton Woolen Mills, which opened in Oregon in 1863, weaves designs in two of America’s remaining woolen mills located in Pendleton, Oregon and Washougal, Washington. With six generations of family ownership, Pendleton is focused on their “Warranted to Be a Pendleton” legacy, creating quality lifestyle products with timeless classic styling. Inspiring individuals from the Pacific Northwest and beyond for over 150 years, Pendleton products are available at Pendleton stores across the US, select retailers worldwide, and on pendleton-usa.com.

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