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It was summer 1862. Storms were brewing over the Colorado Rockies. And when the rain hit, John B. Stetson and his colleagues went scrambling for shelter.

Thinking quickly, they fashioned coverage from the animals they had shot for food. First, a tent, which Stetson created using the felting process he had learned from his father’s business. Then, a hat. Wide-brimmed and tall-crowned, it featured a silhouette familiar today, but back then, the shape was so unusual that the other members of his party gave him grief for it. That is until a passing bullwhacker bought it from Stetson for a five-dollar gold piece.


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