The West could not have been settled without windmills. They provided water for the frontier town, farms, and cattle ranches. Most train stops had a windmill to pump the water to towers that they needed for their boilers. The American Wind Power Center has on display these windmills from the last 200 years.
If you remember day 181 we visited the Kregel Windmill Co. in Nebraska City, Nebraska. I was under the impression there were only a handful of Windmill production companies, but today I saw over 200 different brand windmills on display.
Even Sears Roebuck & Co. sold their branded windmill through their catalog in 1896.
On day 114, when we were in Holland, Michigan, we observed their grist windmill. The museum here had on display numerous millstones, including the stones used by the Hershey Chocolate Company in Pennsylvania, which they used to grind the coco beans into chocolate.
We learned that mill stones work in pairs. The beadstone is stationary and the runner stone rotated above it, hung on a vertical spindle. The milling faces of the stones are given deep furrows and groves that help break up the grain. Over time, these furrows wore down with use and had to constantly be recut, a process known as “dressing the stone”. (Of course you realize that as the stone wears down, it gets mixed into the grain, which you then eat).
This would be a bedstone. The iron band around the circumference prevents the stone from shattering in operation.
This stone was imported from England before the Revolution. It is a runner stone, which you can tell by the cutouts where the spindle from the shaft of the windmill would fit.
The museum also housed a huge train exhibit. Not only did the trains run on a platform that ran the entire length of the building,
but they also ran along the side walls of the building on a double track support that is 13 feet above the floor.
To get the trains to that height required a spiral helix. The trains run along a track that is set around a 15 foot spiral structure that makes 10 loops around to get to the inside wall.
This modern windmill is actually in use providing all the power of the museum.
It is the Vestas Model V47, a wind machine for generating electricity. The machine generates 1 million kilowatt hours of electricity a year. The museum uses half that and sells the rest to the grid. It is 164 feet tall and weighs 97,000 pounds. Each fiberglass blade is 77 feet long. You can purchase one for just under a million dollars, volume discounts are available.