"Tour of Pendleton Woolen Mills" Washougal Things to Do Tip by glabah
Washougal Things to Do: 12 reviews and 43 photos
Having a base in the Pacific Northwest since 1863, Pendleton Woolen Mills is now a fairly good sized corporation, though it is still family owned by the same family that purchased the company around 1912.
At that time, not only did the current owners purchase Pendleton Woolen Mills, but they also purchased this fairly new woolen mill that had been built by the city of Washougal.
The plant tour gives you the complete picture of what is needed to make one of Pendleton's woolen blankets, as almost the entire wool process, from raw material to manufacturing, is handled at this mill. There are only two processes that are not handled here:
+ the shearing of sheep and the first layer of processing, where field dirt and other impurities are filtered out of the wool.
+ garment fabrication is handled overseas, due to the competitive pricing of all of Pendleton's competitors having moved their operations to other countries as well. Blanket manufacturing, however, is still carried out here in Washougal.
The plant tour takes you through the whole process, from receiving the raw wool to dyeing to spinning into yarn, which is then woven into fabric, which is then shrunken to make it washable, and inspected for defects, and making the wool into blankets.
NOT ALLOWED ON THE TOUR: you are not allowed to have your cell phone turned on, nor are you allowed to take any photographs of the mill interior or exterior from Pendleton property (this is why all of my photos of the plant feature the plant as seen from nearby public throughfares). You are not allowed to touch anything other than the floor, and wool samples that are specifically for touching by the tourists. You are especially not allowed to use the employee's facilities of any type, including the vending machines or the toilets.
While most of the buildings have been updated to look very modern, there are a few that still retain their old historic appearance. This includes the two brick buildings on the north side of the building, which appear to be the steam plant buildings. As interesting as they may appear, you are not allowed to get closer than about 70 feet from them. The brick work appears to be very ornate, and typical of what would have been seen around 1912.
The plant still celebrates the fine old American factory tradition of the noon steam whistle, which blows a second time at 12:30 to mark the end of lunch time.
The web site states that the Washougal mill shuts down for two weeks in August and two weeks in December, and that visiting plans should include that if they want a factory tour. However, this month they will only be closed one week rather than the normal two, so it pays to plan ahead and call them to find out what their production schedule is like.
Tours are offered Monday through Friday at 9, 10, 11, and 13:30, with possible other times offered if a large tour group wants to tour the plant and there is enough staff to handle an additional tour. I highly suggest the 9:00 tour, especially if you are visiting in the summer months, as it gets hot in the building. I took the 10:00 tour, and found that while there was lots going on, there were some employees that were at their mid-day break. I have a feeling that the 9:00 tour would have had a little more action, but the fact is the machinery here must run all the time, and so even on the 10:00 tour there was quite a bit to watch - it's just that if you have a choice, the 9:00 tour seems like it would feature more comfortable temperatures in the summer, and slightly more activity.
Tours start at the retail counter in the Mill Store, so go into the store, ask about the tours at the cash register, and there will be someone there to help you. The tours are operated on a special schedule, free of charge, and it should be noted the plant is subject to shutdown for two weeks in December and two weeks in August. The web site below is for the Pendleton corporation, but getting to the Washougal plant tours is quite complicated from there. It is much easier to simply type "Pendleton Woolen Mills Washougal Plant Tour" into Google, and the first result or two will include the page that describes the Washougal plant tour, gives you phone numbers, and other information.
Tour guides hand out radio headsets with a cordless microphone so they can be heard over the plant noise, so you may want to bring your own headphones to plug into the devices (do they allow that? I don't know).
The web site below is for the company, and finding the Washougal operation from their web site is a little cumbersome. Hit the "Store Locator" and into the Store Locator type "Washougal, Washington". You will then come up with a web page for the store that is just outside the Pendleton Washougal plant.
The tour is currently free of charge.
Finding the place is reasonably easy due to the large Pendleton Woolen Mill sign on one of the buildings facing Highway 14.
The pedestrian tunnel under highway 14 that connects Steamboat Landing Park with downtown Washougal comes out on the south side of the company store.
Address: 2 Pendleton WAY, Washougal, WA. 98671
Directions: From highway 14, turn north onto 15th at traffic light, west onto A street, south onto Pendleton Street. Plant is two blocks south of downtown Washougal. Pendleton Way is where 17th should be.
Phone: (360) 835-1118
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