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Woolrich: Weaving the fabric of Pennsylvania history

September 8, 2015

Filed under Collections, Community and Domestic Life, Pennsylvania Icons, Pennsylvania Treasures

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The Woolrich hunting suit: : Prized for the its warmth and durability

This three-piece Woolrich Woolen Mills hunting suit was prized for its warmth and durability. Relatives of Carlton States of York donated the suit to The State Museum in 1996.

Selected as this week’s Pennsylvania Treasure, this three-piece hunting suit was purchased in the 1940s and used by Carlton States of York. One of Mr. States’ descendants donated the suit to The State Museum in 1996. Woolrich Woolen Mills in Clinton County, Pa., manufactured this red-and-black wool suit which includes a vest, a field coat and a pair of knickers.

Woolrich Woolen Mills began operating in 1830 when English immigrant John Rich built his first woolen mill along Plum Run in Clinton County. From the mill, he produced woolen fabric, socks, coverlets and yarn that he sold from a mule cart as he traveled between the lumber camps that had sprung up to harvest the area’s vast timber-rich forests. In search of a more reliable water supply, Rich built a new mill along Chatham Run in 1845.

Headquartered in what is now the town of Woolrich, Pa., the Woolrich Woolen Mill is the oldest, continually operating woolen mill in the United States. Throughout its history, the company has fashioned a wide assortment of rugged outdoor apparel and blankets. When railroad construction began in Pennsylvania in the mid-1800s, Woolrich developed a multi-pocket utility vest for railroad workers that proved so popular,  that the item is still in production today. During the Civil War, the mill produced woolen blankets for the Union Army. Throughout the years, the company’s products have kept pace with evolving technology and the changing lifestyles of Americans. Those goods have included woolen bathing suits and golf knickers, lap robes to protect and warm early automobile travelers and hunting apparel such as this suit, prized for its warmth and durability.

Carlton States’ hunting suit will be on display this fall at The State Museum as part of the upcoming Pennsylvania Icons exhibit.


About Pennsylvania Icons:
Featuring a diverse array of artifacts from the collections of the State Museum of Pennsylvania and other Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission historic sites and museums, Pennsylvania Icons tells the story of our commonwealth, its people and the role they played in shaping the nation. The exhibit features historic artifacts ranging from a 1654 map of the Philadelphia region to pieces of the Walnut Street bridge in Harrisburg. Pennsylvania Icons opens to the public on Sunday, November 8, 2015.


About Pennsylvania Treasures:
In early 2012, The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission launched the Collections Advancement Project (CAP), a program to inventory and catalog our vast and significant holdings of art and artifacts. These efforts are resulting in better stewardship of our collections which represent Pennsylvania arts, culture, history, sciences, business and agriculture. As a component of the project, CAP curators have researched rarely exhibited artifacts and works of art. We are sharing these Pennsylvania Treasures with the public through weekly updates.