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  • Writer's pictureMelody Lager

Catching the Wind

Some say that windmills helped build this country - and they may be right! The great plains of the USA were so difficult to settle - with water available if you lived in the rightplace. In 1854, Daniel Halladay introduced the first American windmill - smaller and easier to maintain than its European counterparts. As the railroad moved westward,windmills became an important part of the water needed for the steam engines.

The Wright CO. Monitor reported as early as 1874 that a windmill would be a goodinvestment for those who had livestock. “The new windmill at Eagle Grove Farm is quite a center of attraction…several farmer on the Boone are talking of putting in windmills” was published in 1877.

In 1888, the firm of Minor and Jones was advertising “We are agents for Woodmanseand and Champion windmills”. Farmers were putting windmills up at a good pace - up until the 1930’s, when electric lines were going up. Initial windmills were wood, followedby steel. The 1890’s found more and more steel windmills produced.

Perhaps the only bad thing about windmills was that a severe storm could damage oreven demolish a windmill. But as electricity continued to grow in use, windmills fell out of favor. In the 1960’s, there were three manufacturers still in business: Aermotor,Dempster, and Baker. If you have an interest in old windmills, there is the American Windmill Museum in Lubbock, Texas!

And now - about 170 years after the first American windmill was made, huge white “windmills” dot parts of the country. These turbines are once again harnessing the power of the wind, only this time they are making electricity, the very item that almost made them defunct.

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