This story appears in the January 2020 issue of National Geographic magazine.
In 1939 a German-born shoemaker named Peter Limmer got the first U.S. patent for a “ski boot”—a stiff, square-toed leather shoe made to order. Today, gray-bearded Peter Limmer III hammers out about 200 pairs of hiking boots a year using his grandfather’s tools in the Intervale, New Hampshire, shop his grandfather opened. There’s a perpetual waiting list for the custom boots, priced at $775 and up; loyalists come from as far away as Tasmania for final boot fittings. Limmer, 63, still loves his work. “The best part,” he says, “is seeing customers dance in the driveway with their new boots on.”