Red Wing Shoes was founded by Charles Beckman, a German immigrant who arrived in America in the late 19th century. When Beckman was 17 years old, he got off the train at Red Wing and found employment at a local leather factory.
Working there, Beckman developed an interest in shoemaking. In 1883, he opened a shoe store, inspired by a want to sell only “truly good shoes.” The store thrived, but Charles still believed good shoes were too hard to find, so he decided to become a shoemaker himself. In 1905, with 14 like-minded investors, he founded the Red Wing Shoe Company.
Sturdy, thick, high-quality leather is essential for making Red Wing work boots. Since Mr. Beckman founded the company in 1905, premium leathers would be a key need for their footwear. In 1987, Red Wing acquired the S.B. Foot Tanning Company. The tannery was founded in 1872 on the banks of Trout Brook in Featherstone Township, just down the road from Red Wing’s original Plant One. Mr. Beckman himself worked at the Foot tannery. Today, Red Wing Shoe Company continues to use S.B. Foot Tanning Company for the production of their purpose-built work boots.
Red Wing’s S.B. Foot Tannery uses a time-hallowed wooden mill for the re-tanning process. The mill houses a huge rotating drum where the leather, tanning agent, dye and oil are fed, and everything is rotated. The tannery flirted with replacing the wooden mill with a modern, metal installation, but the management was not satisfied with the resulting leather and returned to the old pine mill, which they still use today.
Red Wing Minnesota, USA
Red Wing is located in southeast Minnesota, and was settled by Europeans in the 1850s. Red Wing was incorporated as a city in 1857. The city was named after a famed tribal chief, who was succeeded by a Dakota tribe of the Sioux who ruled this region before the arrival of European settlers. Today, Red Wing has a population of 16,000, and features handsome brick buildings along the banks of the Mississippi.
History overview courtesy of Red Wing Shoe Company operated by the Sweasy family since 1914. Sugarcube® is an authorized Red Wing Shoes dealer.