The history of the land, industry and culture are inextricably bound in Red Wing, Minnesota. The town’s location on a bend in the Mississippi River, surrounded by fertile farmland, meant it was an ideal place for a riverboat port, grain mills, and all the businesses that supported these industries. In the 1880’s, more wheat was traded through Red Wing than anywhere else in the US. And in the cold winters between growing seasons, the people who settled the town found diversion in skiing, crafts, and the arts.
Theodore B. Sheldon was a wealthy Red Wing grain baron who made his fortune in the booming days of the late 1800’s. At the beginning of the twentieth century, Sheldon bestowed $83,000 to his town with the stipulation that it be put to some good public use. The funds went towards the construction of a grand theater, which was completed in 1904, four years after Sheldon’ s death, and named in his honor, the T.B. Sheldon Memorial Auditorium. For years it played host to the traveling shows that were popular at the time, a chance for Red Wing’s hardworking citizens to put on their “good” clothes and polish up their shoes for a night out. Today it still stands downtown, hosting arts performances as one of the oldest theaters in the state of Minnesota.
Our latest boot is named for T.B. Sheldon, and we think it’s a fitting tribute to the spirit of his legacy. The Sheldon is still a Red Wing boot, built to the high standards we apply to everything we make—Goodyear welt construction, triple-stitch details and quality leather that will last a lifetime. But that leather is our premium Featherstone, rich and supple, with a smooth finish. A low-profile Roccia sole provides some traction on mud and snow without drawing too much attention, and we build the Sheldon around a more tapered last for a sleeker, dressier appearance than our more rough-and-tumble boots.
Red Wing is a town where hard work meets high art, where “farm to table” is taken literally. Things need to be versatile and low maintenance. This is where we live and these are the principles behind our boots, like the Sheldon. With a little bit of care, they’ll age as well as you, maybe even enough to be called, “distinguished”. And Friday night, after the work week’s over, they’ll pair well with a jacket and, if you’re bold, even a tie when you head downtown for a night at the theater. We like to think T.B. Sheldon would approve.
*Photo courtesy of Goodhue County Historical Society.