Find out the significance of windmills in helping our ancestors populate the West.
It’s unlikely our ancestors could have settled the parched Great Plains or water-starved places such as the Southwest without windmills. The American windmill, also known as a wind engine or wind pump, brought water from the ground where otherwise there was none. Not only thirsty farms but railroads, too, relied on wind power in areas enjoying more wind than water. At the peak of the “windmill wars” in 1928, competing American manufacturers cranked out 99,050 wind engines—the first mass-produced wind-power devices in history. Over the years, Americans have installed some 6 million mechanical-output wind machines, with Texas deploying the most.