The Courtney Woolen Mill began operating at 301 E. Water Street in 1880 by the Kelley Family. At that time, converting wool into cloth, batting and yarn was big business. In Wisconsin, there were actually more sheep than cows!
The historic riverfront mill was acquired by the Courtney family in 1904 and is still operating with the original Davis & Ferber carding machine. Today, Tom Courtney's customers include people seeking quality wool or polyester batting for quilts and mattress pads. "Many people prefer wool because it is natural and warmer, but the polyester batting is also popular because it is washable," said Tom.
Although the company no longer makes yarn, they still use the original carding process to create both wool and polyester batting. The carding machine takes raw wool or polyester fiber and combs it out, allowing the fibers to bind together and form the soft fill that is used for quilts and comforters. "Most of my wool comes from farmers in the Wisconsin Rapids area," he said.
In July of 1993, the Courtney Woolen Mill was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The building itself has remained true to its original form and if you look closely, you'll catch many glimpses of its past. In fact, the name of Tom's grandfather is carved into a wall with 1914 inscribed next to it.
Business hours are Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Friday, 8 a.m. - 3 p.m. From Oct. - Dec., it is also open on Saturdays 8 a.m. - 12 p.m.
More information can be found at: www.courtneywoolenmill.com