The Hudson Valley is a very important place to America's history. It served as a crucial spot in the American Revolution, it was a hub of commerce in the Industrial Revolution, and it was integral for transporting goods during the World Wars. With so many things going on, it is easy to overlook the "simple" things. I use the term "simple" loosely. This Wappingers Falls clothing invention may be a normal part of our lives today, but it was revolutionary when it first came out.

Blue Jeans Were First Made By Sweet, Orr & Co. in Wappingers, New York

I was recently speaking with Wappinger Town Historian Joey Cavaccini on an episode of In Touch, and we discussed many amazing aspects on Dutchess County's history. One thing that he mentioned briefly was that blue jeans originated here in Dutchess County! Since the episode came out, I've had a lot of people message me wanting to learn more about the first blue jeans, they were fascinated!

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So, I reached out to Joey Cavaccini once again, and helped to share some more light on the situation. It all goes back to James Orr and Sweet, Orr & Company, known today as Sweet-Orr. Orr spent time panning for gold during the California Gold Rush. It was during that time he got the idea to create America's first quality off-the-shelf workwear items.

Sweet-Orr / Sweet-Orr Factory 1871 – Wappinger Falls, New York, United States
Sweet-Orr / Sweet-Orr Factory 1871 – Wappinger Falls, New York, United States
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In 1871, Orr created a small factory in Wappingers Falls with his nephews, Clayton E. and Clinton W. Sweet. The original factory was located at the corner of West Main Street and the stone bridge and later moved to an enlarged factory on Mill Street (current municipal lot) in 1876. There were then 250 employees, and a weekly product of 1,000 dozen pairs. It was at this factory where the first pair of blue jeans in the world were produced!

The Sweet-Orr Tug of War

Perhaps this is an image you have seen: men fighting over a pair of jeans or of overalls. That iconic part of Sweet-Orr's logo came from an 1880's marketing challenge. Salespeople for Sweet-Orr issued a challenge where six men took part in a tug of war could not pull the garment apart. This unique marketing demonstration is now forever apart of the brands logo.

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Many people believe that Levi's were the first to produce blue jeans. Levi Strauss & Company established the patent for "improvement in fastening pocket-openings" in 1873 and opened their first blue jean factory the same year. That means Sweet-Orr had Levi Strauss beat out by two years!

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