Chippewa Boots was founded in October 1901 in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. The name comes from the Indian tribe of the region. The company’s mission from day one was to manufacture the finest boots and shoes in the United States. It employed 175 employees, mainly women, and produced 1,200 pairs daily.
Chippewa Boots started out as a company that produced a top end logging boot for area camps in the pulp and paper industry. Timber was in high demand at the turn of the century and the need for wood and pulp drove men to the forests in the upper Midwest and Canada. Recognizing the need for extraordinary footwear Chippewa was there with its Logger Boot to shod thousands of skilled men who took dangerous and risky jobs as lumberjacks. These iconic workers required sharp saws, honed axes, strong ropes and sturdy Chippewa boots. With the right tools two lumberjacks could take down over an acre of white pine and hemlock in one day.
By 1910 a new factory had been built and production increased to 2,500 pairs per day. It was said that this new factory was state of the art and hailed as the finest boot factory in the world. Sales were especially brisk starting in 1914 because of the European market’s need for boots during World War I.
Quickly gained recognition throughout the Midwest as the best quality boots for the rugged outdoors. The reputation for quality provided the impetus for expansion into other markets across the United States.
In the 1930s sales expanded and volume increased tremendously when Chippewa introduced work shoes and Engineer Boots for the oil fields of the day. The company known for developing and inventing the Logger Boot created the Engineer Boot by combining a stovepipe leg shaft over an English Riding boot last. They were worn by land surveyors, which is likely where the name “Engineer Boot” came from. Today, the Chippewa Engineer Boot is the footwear of choice for motorcyclists worldwide because they offer great leg protection and long wearing Vibram® soles that stand up to paved roadways.
During World War II the military depended on Chippewa for the cold-weather footwear needs of its infantry soldiers, especially those that were dropped behind enemy lines in rugged mountains where extreme cold and snow made it difficult to traverse the mountain cliffs. Chippewa Arctic Boots were fleeced-lined and kept soldiers warm as they parachuted into mountains with snow skis. Even today the Chippewa Arctic Boots still feature soles and heels with grooves for ski bindings as tribute to the soldiers that made them famous. For its Diamond Jubilee in 1976 Chippewa introduced the “Minus 40” boot which replaced the extremely bulky military boot used at the time. The new Minus 40 was billed as the Super Insulated boot, the “finest, warmest, insulated Goodyear® welt [boot] ever made”. The company subsequently introduced the “Minus 50” version.
The 1950’s were a watershed period in the outdoor market. As lifestyles changed more and more people began enjoying the great outdoors. They took up hunting, fishing and hiking in record numbers. It was during this period that Chippewa Boots emerged as a leader in innovative outdoor boot technology and became intrinsically associated with this leisure pastime explosion due to its combination of quality, practicality and comfort in an outdoor lifestyle silhouette. An example of this is the Chippewa Snake Boot which was developed for hunters and outdoorsmen who wanted protection from vipers while hunting, working or at leisure in the great outdoors.