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Orvis. For nearly 150 years our name has stood for outdoor traditions, quality, and customer satisfaction. In 1856, Charles Orvis founded the Orvis Company in Manchester, Vermont, offering the finest fly fishing equipment, and priding himself on customer satisfaction and service. Today, along with our world famous fly-fishing gear, Orvis offers distinctive clothing, home furnishings, gifts, and dog products. Each item is rooted in our heritage of authenticity and the outdoors, and is backed with a no-questions-asked guarantee. As the longest-running mail order business in the United States, and with our flagship retail store located in the same Vermont village as the original store since 1856, we offer you experience and knowledge that no other retail company can. Each day we strive to apply what we know and learn to bring you even better service and products tomorrow.
Orvis began in 1856 as a fly fishing company. To this day we remain more committed than ever to the sporting traditions and the natural environment. Orvis donates 5% of pre-tax profits annually to organizations that protect fish and wildlife habitat. Over the last six years, we've donated nearly $5 million to these organizations, including Trout Unlimited, The Nature Conservancy, Coastal Conservation Association, Ducks Unlimited, The Conservation Fund, Ruffed Grouse Society, and The Atlantic Salmon Fund. Read more about our active projects for 2004 and descriptions of our most recently completed past projects.
The ancestry of the Orvis family has been traced to hazy and incomplete records in sixteenth century England. The first known American Orvis was George, who emigrated from England to Farmington, Connecticut, sometime prior to 1640. From there the family name spread and has been associated with a remarkable variety of pastimes and professions. Five generations after George, on the eve of the nineteenth century, Levi Church Orvis was born in Brattleboro, Vermont. In his eighteenth year, during the presidency of James Madison, Levi moved west across the mountains to Manchester, where he met and married Electa Purdy. They had seven children, the fourth being named Charles Frederick Orvis.
In 1831, when Charles Orvis was born Revolutionary War veterans still lived to weave their magic tales of battles won; deep wild woods still bordered green pastures; and life in the Battenkill Valley still retained much of the flavor of frontier days. For all these romantic attachments, the rural economy tempered its children to self reliance. Charles Orvis developed an uncommon practical inventiveness along with an unusual business acumen. By his twentieth birthday he was skilled with hand and machine tools and had mastered the basics of mechanical engineering.
Charles, like many rural boys, developed an interest in field sports early. Later in life his enthusiasm for outdoor pursuits would be revealed in mature ways, such as his support of improved fisheries management and deer laws, but as a youth he still had much to learn. A major event was his first encounter with a skilled fly fisherman: