A Positive Spin on Wind - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

3/4/03

A Positive Spin on Wind

The shadow is rare yet familiar. Unmistakable proof that windmills are still a part of the landscape.

"We have over 110 windmills on display right now," said Coy Harris, Executive Director of the American Wind Power Center.

The center is a treasure trove of windmills. "The American Wind Power Center is the largest windmill museum in the whole world," said Harris. Dating back to the 1860's, windmills have been built out of both wood and steel. The slats on the wheels as proudly painted as a peacock's feathers. A perfect blend of form and functionality.

Windmills have been an environmentally safe, economically sound energy source long before looking for cleaner cheaper fuels became en vogue. Prior to the invention of electricity, windmills were the only way a family on the south plains could possibly pump enough water to sustain a farm. "You had to have one, because there's not enough surface water," said Harris. "You look at old pictures of Lubbock and everyone had one. Farmers had one near the house and ranchers had a few hundred," he said.

A computer animation at the museum demonstrates how the spinning wheel moves what's called a 'sucker rod' up and down, pumping water from an underground well. A process which today has been primarily replaced with electric pumps. But windmills are still manufactured and sold, and interest in their history is as strong as the wind that drives them.

"We have people from all over the world come to see the windmills. On days like today we get a big variety because it's so windy they almost get blown in the front door," said Harris.

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