Home Archives July 2007 Historic Oregon tannery shuts down

Historic Oregon tannery shuts down

| Print |  Email
Sunday, July 01, 2007

{safe_alt_text}

DALLAS — Lisa Koloen hoped to see her daughter keep alive the family’s tannery but instead came to a hard realization. “Being a historic place doesn’t pay the bills,” says Koloen.

Muir & McDonald Co., the oldest of three remaining tanneries in the United States employing a traditional vegetable tanning method, will close its doors this summer after 144 years in the business. The tannery supplies leather to saddle makers in Louisiana and Texas and until now has defended its title as the oldest continuously running business in Polk County.

The vegetable method the tannery uses requires a four-month process that allows the tanner to start and end with one piece of hide, compared to other processes that can finish in hours. But the tannery kept with tradition, even until the very end.

The decision to close was a difficult five-year process, says Koloen, company president and the fourth generation of tanners at Muir. “The confusing and crazy part,” Koloen says, was that “the tannery had a lot of orders.” Despite demand, the rising cost of production for a small tannery operating in a world market combined with an unwieldy utility bill for the company’s 40,000-square-foot building forced the tannery to close down. “I love this business,” Koloen says. “This has been our life.”

Koloen worked at the tannery as a child, sweeping floors and painting fences. She remembers growing up and seeing the town’s businesses spring up around the tannery.

Koloen won’t be out of the leather industry for long. When she and her husband finish their current orders in the next few months, she’ll start with another vegetable-method tannery based in Pennsylvania, which has stayed afloat by employing more upgraded and progressive techniques.

— Eunice Lee


Have an opinion? E-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

Comments   

 
P.T. Dessero
0 #1 P.T. Dessero 2011-09-17 20:05:48
I bought leather sides fron this Tannery back in the 79's and 8o's. This company made one of the best leathers I used. I am sorry to hear this. I am retired now but still know people who are new in this business. I would like to be informed when they start there new adventure. I can be reached at email below.
Your truly
P.T.Dessero
Quote | Report to administrator
 
 
Guest
0 #2 Muir & McDonaldGuest 2012-08-18 23:19:24
Hello P.T. Dessero,

Both Lisa Koloen and Eldon Bevens passed away within the last two years. The Tannery is still in the process of being sold and likely demolished. Sad end to an era.
Quote | Report to administrator
 
 
Guest
+1 #3 RE: Historic Oregon tannery shuts downGuest 2013-01-13 02:36:56
I am living in the Kansas City aarea - but am from Monmouth-Dallas area. Have a nice new belt buckle that needs a belt - the custom shop here is a big fan of Muir McDonald, and has a small stash of leather that he thinks we can make into a nice belt. Sad this has come to an end.
Quote | Report to administrator
 
 
Guest
0 #4 BeltGuest 2013-01-13 04:12:13
Glad to know that there is still a bit of leather out there being used. I hope you get a great belt out of it!
Quote | Report to administrator
 
 
Guest
0 #5 Looking for the new shopGuest 2013-03-03 03:08:24
Does anyone know if these folks opened a new shop?
Quote | Report to administrator
 
 
Guest
0 #6 RE: Historic Oregon tannery shuts downGuest 2014-05-27 20:51:39
I'm working with my boss on tearing it down right now and selling the beautiful wood from it
Quote | Report to administrator
 

More Articles

November/December Preview: Revenge Forestry

November/December 2014
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
BY JONATHAN FROCHTZWAJG

A flare-up in the Elliott Forest raises questions about détente in Oregon’s timber wars.


Read more...

True Blood

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY JOE ROJAS-BURKE

Antibiotics really aren’t magic bullets.


Read more...

College Conundrum

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY KIM MOORE

University and college tuition fees have been rising for more than a decade, while state funds for higher education have steadily declined.


Read more...

A Recipe for Success

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

Two businesswomen, two iconic food brands and one food-obsessed city. We thought this sounded like a recipe for good conversation. So in late August, Oregon Business sat down with Wendy Collie, CEO of New Seasons Market, and Kim Malek, owner of Salt & Straw, to discuss their rapidly expanding businesses and Oregon’s trendsetting food scene.


Read more...

100 Best Nonprofits to Work for in Oregon [VIDEO]

News
Thursday, October 02, 2014

Screen shot 2014-10-02 at 11.17.21 AMMore than 5,500 employees from 180 organizations throughout the state participated in the 100 Best Nonprofits to Work for in Oregon project.


Read more...

Podcast: Turn Things Around with David Marquet

Contributed Blogs
Friday, October 17, 2014
davidmarquet thumbBY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER

How can you move from a command-and-control leadership model to one of true empowerment and accountability? David Marquet did, and he took notes along the way.


Read more...

A Taste of Heaven

September 2014
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
BY VIVIAN MCINERNY

Craft beer comes to Mount Angel.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS