Woolrich's tradition of custom-designed woolens dates back to its founder, John Rich. In 1830 he constructed his first woolen mill in Plum Run, Pennsylvania. From his mule cart, he sold his quality fabrics to loggers, miners, rivermen and trappers. By 1845, he expanded the mill and moved to what is now Woolrich, Pennsylvania.
Founded in 1830 by John Rich, an English immigrant, Woolrich is the oldest continuously operated woolen mill in the United States. As such, it can rightfully lay claim to being America’s original outdoor clothing company. Despite America’s transformation over the last 180 years, Woolrich never stopped making quality wool products, and that commitment has enabled Woolrich to endure to the present day. From classic wool blankets to flannel shirts to a pair of soft slippers, the Woolrich legacy and commitment to quality is evident in every fiber of every product.
John Rich built his first woolen mill on a small creek in Pennsylvania. Using the power of the creek, Rich processed raw wool into yarns and woven fabrics, and then visited lumber and hunting camps in the surrounding area to sell yarn, blankets, and socks. In 1845, Rich moved the mill a few miles away to a larger stream and in the years following, a small village named Woolrich was built around the mill. The original mill building still stands and the company is headquartered in Woolrich, Pennsylvania, to the present day.
Few clothing brands, if any, have witnessed as much American history as Woolrich. In 1830 there were only 24 states and millions of buffalo still roamed the vast western frontier. In fact, the iconic red and black Buffalo flannel shirts worn by the frontiersman of the 1850s originated at Woolrich Woolen Mills. It supplied the army with wool blankets during the Civil War and designed the railroad vests worn by conductors building the transcontinental railroad. The mill made wool bathing suits and golf pants for the leisure class of the Roaring ‘20s, and when the Great Depression struck, Woolrich put the mill employees to work building houses until the the demand for wool bounced back. In 1940, the US government even contracted Woolrich to supply Admiral Byrd’s expeditions to Antarctica. As camping and backpacking surged in popularity through the ‘50s and ‘60s, Woolrich was once again providing clothing for outdoor living.
Today, many Woolrich fabrics are still crafted in Woolrich, Pennsylvania. You can buy a blanket, flannel shirt, or jacket in a pattern from the 1800s, but you can also find styles that incorporate modern trends and technical fabrics. Most recently, Woolrich has launched a footwear line that ranges from classic leather boots to felted wool slippers. At Backcountry, we know that wool is the original outdoor tech fabric, and in many instances, it’s still preferable to high-tech synthetics. So it’s only fitting that we turn to the original outdoor clothing company to bring quality wool clothing to you.