Each year, a 30,000+ square foot factory in mid-Pennsylvania churns out tens of thousands of the Woolrich blankets, made in the USA. Because of their dedication to quality, and community, when it was cheaper to move factories overseas, the family-owned company kept their Pennsylvania factory continuously running—even through tough times of war and depression. Earlier this summer, our friends at Woolrich invited us out to their corporate headquarters, their famous mill, and off-site conference center Brayton Lodge for the weekend to show us what quality means to them.
The Woolrich Heritage: 185 Years of Quality Blankets
Woolrich’s heritage begins with John Rich, an English immigrant who founded the company in 1830. Since then, the legendary blankets have kept both soldiers and civilians warm, spanning the Civil War, WWI and WWII. Even during tough times, the mill was kept open and operating; Woolrich knew that too many people in the community depended on it to close. When the Great Depression hit, Woolrich built off-site cabins for staffers to keep the company moving forward. Today, it’s at the oldest continuously operating vertical mill in the United States. These days, the company is still going strong, with more than 250 staffers working together to design and produce a unique line of products.
Touring the Woolrich Woolen Mills is a step back into time; the same, massive machines have been making blankets for over 185 years. Some span entire rooms, sprawling throughout the three-story warehouse. Guided by Joyce Rasener, visitors are taken through the process where raw wool is precessed into yarn, then woven into fabric and blankets. Each blanket then goes through quality inspection multiple times before they’re shipped off to wholesalers, shops and distribution centers.
Wanna visit the factory? Tours are free and open to the public once a month, May through October. Check their website for dates and availability. Check out our gallery below to take a peek into the historic mill.
A Peek Inside Woolrich’s Brayton Lodge
During our visit to Woolrich, PA, we were lucky enough to stay at Brayton Lodge, an off-site conference center for Woolrich employees and visitors. The huge, four-bedroom lodge hosted our group of friends from Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York. We spent our mornings sipping coffee with hearty breakfasts prepared by Mary Ann, the lodge’s caretaker; evenings were spent on the back patio, overlooking the Algheny Mountains.