Red Wing Work Boots

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Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 5.30.17 PMTHE ROLLICKING ’20s were a grand time in Philadelphia.  Luxury “flats” stretched entire blocks.  Inside these aristocratic apartments, room after room unfolded in a maze. As an apprentice plumber, a kid in a man’s body, I once found myself on the 8th floor above 15th and Spruce, snapping a piece of 6″ cast iron pipe. We were replacing part of a cracked stack in just such a grande dame near the Academy of Music. 

Snap! Crack! Ouch! . . . wait, what happened? The pipe jumped forward a funny way, and smacked my ankle.  The boss, grinning through his cigarette smoke, christened me Hoppy, chuckling at the swelling.  A few minutes later, he promised we’d visit Vern at the boot store.  My health benefits were about to kick in.

Vern ran the local Red Wing Boot Store.  For ten bucks, Vern handed me a used but serviceable pair of boots in my size from out back.  I was now officially a plumber, with the boots to match.  8″ of leather protected my ankles.  Sturdy soles protected my arches in the trenches, where I practiced the Art of Digging.  I’ve been buying Red Wing exclusively ever since.

There is a city called Red Wing, in Minnesota.  The heart of a country engrossed with mining, logging and farming needed the Right Boots.  In 1905, local shoe merchant Charles Beckman, along with 14 investors, opened a shoe company to develop work boots to fill industry needs.  A new standard for excellence was born!

My current pair was bought as closeouts a decade ago, and finally put into service a few years back.  After Screen Shot 2014-03-17 at 2.48.37 PMthe heels became mushy, I belatedly discovered these boots were not recraftable.  New boots looked to be in order.  However, a shoe genius located, at all places, the corner of 15th and Spruce, cut off the heels and glued on new ones for $40, saving me a thick stack of crisp Yankee dollars. 

Red Wing is a city in Goodhue County, Minnesota, United States, on the Mississippi River. The population was 16,459 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Goodhue County.

6 thoughts on “Red Wing Work Boots

    Alden Cordovan Loafers « American Toolbox said:
    July 13, 2014 at 8:00 am

    […] choose Alden of New England, shoes made since 1884 in Massachusetts.  They are recraftable,  a construction that is designed to allow rebuilding. Which I’ve done once so far;  the […]

    Estwing Framing Hammer « American Toolbox said:
    June 15, 2015 at 9:23 pm

    […] the time of my first Red Wings, I watched a chain-smoking Master Plumber mucking around half a dozen feet below the sidewalk.  He […]

    Red Wing Boot Restoration « American Toolbox said:
    April 24, 2016 at 7:15 am

    […] with Red Wing boots came after a moment of blinding pain.  The boss had just cut a piece of cast iron pipe held steady with my foot.  The snapped piece of pipe rebounded against my ankle.  After […]

    Steve said:
    August 28, 2016 at 10:11 am

    Red Wing Work Boots is a famous brand of work boots, i also like them, these boots look so durable and good-looking, could you give me some details about history of redwind work boots and irish setter, i think they have the same history but im not sure? Please, thank you for helping me!

    American Toolbox responded:
    November 4, 2016 at 6:20 pm

    Please note, these boots are indeed recraftable; the factory applied their magic to my current (and 5th) pair. The results are detailed here:

    American Toolbox responded:
    November 4, 2016 at 6:23 pm

    Another pair of Model 953 boots are wanted! I picked a close factory store at random, the Newark Delaware location, and guess what? “Mike”, whose first name is REDFERN, is manager.

    Yep, the very “Fern” who sold me my first pair of boots, answered the phone. Dang, it is a small world! (Note:, the story above lists the name as ‘Vern’, when his nickname back then was ‘Fern’). ‘Mike’ asked about the boss plumber plumber. All is well. Small world!

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