I’ve mentioned in the past how creepy those wind turbines are once you reach Ithaca, if you’re heading north. Can you honestly call these metal gargoyles ‘windmills’? They may be slightly similar to the more familiar barnyard windmills, but blade-wise, that’s about it. Give me an old-fashioned farm windmill any day.

According to the History of Windmills, there have been different types of windmills over the centuries, but the ones you see on farms were labeled ‘windpump’ windmills. They are beneficial in moving water, irrigation, drainage, and supplying fresh water.

Once Europeans began settling in America – or the ‘New World’ as it was called – they began building their windmills, just like the ones they had been using in their home countries for many years. The popularity spread throughout this country and Mexico, and soon these windmills were everywhere. They began being constructed from wood, and later the blades were made from sturdier, more long-lasting steel.

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One nice thing about the windpump windmill was that it needed very little maintenance, and by the 1930s, there were over 600,000 windpump windmills being used all across the United States. In the 2000s, the amount has dwindled to about 1/10th of the 1930s number.

So maybe there are those who get a kick out of those newer wind turbines…but I prefer the others. Whenever I come across an old windmill sitting on some old farmland, I feel glad they’re still around and being used. Even though the invention came from overseas hundreds of years ago, seeing one in the countryside is pure America…and Pure Michigan.

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