When I tell people in other places that I live in Red Wing, most of the time the response I get is: "Is that where they make the shoes?" Yes, that Red Wing.
Red Wing Shoe Company ("The Shoe," as the locals say) has been producing shoes here for 104 years, and they are easily the most famous product of Red Wing. It seems I can drive through almost any decent-sized town between New York and LA and find a Red Wing Shoe sign hanging outside some store.
My personal experience is limited to using their steel-toed work shoes for a use probably not foreseen: Baseball umpiring. I've spent years behind the plate wearing the shoes, which not only have the steel toe protection, but have a thick, molded plastic flap that covers the laces and the top of your foot. Great protection from foul balls and thrown bats, and you can stand in them all day. In addition to shoes, the company became known for high-quality boots, including the famous "Irish Setter" hunting boot.
A few years ago - I think for the company's 100th anniversay - they decided to create the world's biggest boot. A friend of mine - Dave Fredrickson - had the enviable job of chaperoning the boot around the country to trade shows, conventions, etc.
Next week the company is opening a new retail store and museum along Red Wing's main street, and this morning they moved the boot from the factory to its new downtown location with a little four-block parade. Next time you need a little getaway, come on down to Pretty Red Wing and see the world's biggest boot!
A few quick facts:
Size: 638-1/2 D (Just right for a 120-foot tall person.)
It weighs 2,300 pounds and took 13 months to build.
The lace is 104 feet long, 2-1/4 inches wide, and runs through 3-1/2 inch eyelets that required 80 pounds of brass to make.
It's 20 feet long, 16 feet high, seven feet wide.
It's been recognized by the Guiness Book of Records as the World's Largest Footwear.
The final stitching required lowering a person into the boot with a pulley system.