1238 Wall St., Ironwood, MI 49938
We left the museum and headed about as far west as you can go in the Upper Peninsula. We drove 264 miles to the town of Ironwood, right on the Wisconsin border. It’s so far, they’re even on central time there. We were in search of the iconic cap of the U.P., the Stormy Kromer, and at long last we found both the factory and the fellow who saved it.
Stormy Kromer is indeed the classic cap of the U.P. It’s been around for over one hundred years and it’s made right in Ironwood. A dozen years ago, Bob Jacquart was sitting in a coffee shop when he overheard someone say that because of tough economic times the Stormy Kromer Company might stop making this iconic cap. Well, the Stormy Kromer tradition was so strong in Bob’s family that he figured out a way to buy and save the company.
George “Stormy” Kromer was a real guy. He was a semi-pro baseball player and railroad engineer back in the late 1800s. Problem was, Stormy kept losing his ball cap when he’d stick his head out the train window. In 1903, he asked his wife Ida to modify an old baseball cap to help keep it on in windy weather. She fashioned a hat that would not only stay on, but would pull down to cover his ears and keep him warm. Soon other railroad workers wanted a Stormy Kromer cap, and the business was born.
Now Bob, his wife Denise and their daughters Gina and Kari are keeping Stormy Kromer’s legacy alive. They saved the company, are employing tons of townspeople and are carrying on an important part of the U.P.’s legacy. Next time you’re up in the U.P., look around. Stormy Kromers abound.