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Engineer Boot History


1943 Engineer Boot
4606 --- Oil Tan uppers, 17-inch Welt con-
structed Engineer's type,   field boot with
Ranger heel.  Medium double leather soles
with embossed viscolized outsole, drill lined
vamp, outside counter pocket,  grain insole,
shank rivets, inside rolled top band, in stock
D width, sizes 6 to 11 and 12.
Chippewa Engineer Boot from 1943 Catalogue.

chip1.jpg (804 bytes) Chippewa Letterhead 1943
Chippewa Letterhead 1943

February 16, 1943

The above graphics are from an actual 1943 Chippewa letterhead.
It was a letter sending a catalog to a customer.

Click to view the complete letter >

Actual 1943 letter - Click for enlargement
1943 Chippewa Catalog


From the 1943 Chippewa catalogue pictured on this page, we know the engineer boot goes back to the 40's.  However, in a August 7, 1980 letter (pictured below) sent to a friend, the President/Director of Sales at the Chippewa Shoe Co., stated, "it is the understanding of the writer that the Chippewa Engineer boot was originally developed by this company way back during depression days.  As far as we know, it is American.  Our engineer boot is made with a stovepipe leg and is fashioned over what they call an English Riding Boot last.  We have made the engineer style for many years and it is a very common pattern with us, although the volume on it is not as great as it used to be."

I would guess the volume did increase after this 1980 letter.  I welcome any comments and additional information to this history.  In 1960's Sears catalogs, the Chippewa made engineers (Sears name) were shown being worn by land surveyors.  I have thought this is how they got the name, engineer?  And this has been confirmed on the Chippewa Boots website.  From the 2010 Chippewa Boots website, "Chippewa Boots® is credited with developing the Engineer Boot in the 1930's. The name comes from their original use by, among other people, land surveyors."

I have been told by others that train engineers first wore engineer boots, but this appears to be less likely?

WESCO may be the manufacture of some of the early engineer boots.  Does the engineer boot have its origin before the depression days?  After receiving a 1928 Chippewa catalog (pictured at the bottom) no engineer boots are in the 1928 Chippewa catalog!  This further substantiates the 1930's era for the start of the engineer boot as does the information from Jeff (see below) in Milwaukee.

1980 Chippewa Letter

< This letter is the 1980 letter that is quoted above.

It was sent to a friend that had requested information
as to the origin of the engineer boot.

< Click to view the complete letter.

If anyone knows of or has any engineer boots from many years ago, I would be most interested.  Sears appears to have been a main distributor for engineer boots made by Chippewa during the 40' to the 70's.  In the 1943 letter, Chippewa even recommended to the customer, "In your locality we would recommend that you call at Sears."   I have engineer boots in the collection from the 70's and quite possibility some from the 60's or earlier.

I received the following informative information from Jeff in Milwaukee who has researched old Sears catalogs at the library:

"I checked at the Milwaukee Public Library and found that the first appearance of engineer boots was around 1938. They were originally all of the l7 or l8-inch height. It wasn't until later on that the ll-inch boots were found in the catalogs. Also, during the war years, engineer boots disappeared from the catalogs. The re-appearance of engineer boots was announced in the catalog after the war.  I remember the page saying something like, "Engineer boots are now back and are available again." I hope this helps with your historical interest in these great-looking boots!"
       Jeff in Milwaukee *

  A 1928 Chippewa has been found.
1928 Chippewa Catalog

Chippewa Engineer boots in 1928??
No Engineer boots in the 1928 catalog,
Only lace up loggers.

page updated: 04/23/2010

This site is not a business, but is a private collection.  The opinions and comments are mine and are not those of the particular brand or manufacture of the items pictured in this site.  All information given is based on my personal experience and knowledge gained from owning this huge classic collection.  Items are for display and are not for sale.

These pages are for non-profit informational purposes with no intention of infringing upon the copyrights of any of the copyright owners.  Jerry

* Jeff in Milwaukee did not include his e-mail address in the comments he sent.  Jeff, if you read this, thanks a bunch for the information and if you do not want to be quoted, please let me know.  Otherwise, write back.   I will get busy on the Brand Trivia pages as you asked.  Sorry for being so slow.  Jerry

For many more pictures of the classic engineer boot, check out:
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