Once upon a time, wooden baskets were as commonplace as plastic bags are today, used by 19th Century farmers to store, tote and ship American produce. Today, most basket-making companies have died off thanks to the introduction of cardboard boxes, but Texas Basket Co. in Jacksonville, Texas, keeps the tradition of basket-making alive, producing up to 12,000 baskets a day. Today’s baskets come in a variety of novel shapes and sizes, from baskets shaped like giant coffee cups to ones shaped like the state of Texas. How have they managed to stay in business? Read their story
Centuries ago, the Penobscots Indians in present-day Old Town, Maine crafted delicate water vessels from birch bark. Today, Old Town’s rich boat-building history lives on with Old Town Canoe Co., the nation’s oldest canoe manufacturer. Founded in 1900 by George Gray, the company produces over 100,000 artisan canoes and kayaks every year that are used to ply lakes and rivers around the world. Read their story
When Sharon Rivenbark’s only son, Tim, was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor in 1982, the fifth-grade teacher from Helmsburg, Indiana was determined to find a way to help him cope with the life-changing illness. The solution? For Bare Feet, a sock-making business that Rivenbark owned and operated together with her son. By 1984, the novelty socks were a hit, and the company soon received a license from the NCAA to sell socks adorned with official college sports logos. Read their story
No two knives are the same at W.R. Case & Sons Cutlery Co in Bradford, Penn. Established in 1889, the 450-employee company produces thousands of handcrafted, artisan-made pocket and hunting knives every day. Every knife is carefully crafted by 125 pairs of hands from materials such as Brazilian cattle bone, mother-of-pearl and buffalo horn. Prized by collectors from around the country, Case knives can sell for as much as several hundred dollars. What do visitors say about the American-made products? Read their story
When Luther Replogle quit his job during the Great Depression to make and sell globes, critics thought he’d mapped out a surefire route to failure. Replogle floundered through nearly three years of stagnant sales before finally getting his break at the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago, where he sold more than 100,000 globes for $1.75 each—and put Replogle Globes on the map. Today, Replogle Globes in Broadview, Ill. is the world’s largest globe manufacturer, its globes continuing to inspire the imagination with thoughts and dreams of faraway places. Read their story
Some 1,500 miles from the nearest ocean, farmers-turned-factory workers build luxury sports boats in Neodesha, Kan., where Pack St. Clair has operated his family business since 1970. He started in 1968 with a single boat that he sold at a California boat show. Today, Cobalt Boats is the town’s biggest employer and makes 2,600 boats annually sold through 100 dealers across the globe. Read their story
Since 1986, The Carousel Works has provided timeless amusement for parents and children alike with its beautiful, handcrafted merry-go-rounds. Founded in 1986, the Mansfield, Ohio-based company is the largest manufacturer of wooden carousels in the world, with a crew of 28 building or restoring five merry-go-rounds every year for amusement parks and zoos. Each individual carousel can take up to a year to build and can cost as much as $1 million. Read their story
Four generations of Americans have painted their houses, picked apples and retrieved wayward badminton birdies from rooftops with a boost from Michigan Ladder Co. in Ypsilanti, Mich. Founded in 1901, the company is America’s oldest ladder manufacturer, producing over 50,000 wooden ladders each year in the company’s original factory. Continuing a 109-year-old tradition, every ladder is still individually built and inspected to ensure lasting quality. How many ladders can they produce in one day? Read their story
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