Tuesday, November 30, 2010


On the high plains there is a lot of nothing. Nothing can be good sometimes because there’s nothing to block the flow of air pumping over those plains. That flow of air has been powering windmills for generations as I learned on a visit to the American Wind Power Museum in Lubbock, Texas.

There is definitely a certain kind of beauty whenever form meets function. In this case, the windmills’ designs are obviously optimized to take full advantage of the blowing wind even in very light breezes. Less obvious design features help to control and balnce the windmill. If the windmill is allowed to spin up as fast as it wants in very blustery conditions then the windmill would litterally come apart in a centrifical explosion. On the other hand, if it is pointing in the wrong direction then it would not spin at all. The design experiments used to control and balance the windmills have led to some interesting shapes over time.

The windmill museum is interesting because they explain and display a lot of those shapes all together. Some of the windmills displayed only exist in America here. I’m talking most notably about the Dutch design. The Dutch windmill looked authentic to me. It had careful, unusual wood and metal craftsmanship that looks unlikely to have been fabricated here.

The people who run the museum definitely appreciate art. In the covered outside area of the museum there is a very large wall. There was an artist in a portable lift probably about 60 feet off of the ground working on the mural in the room. The mural was a landscape devoted to farm and windmill life. It was quite obviously a major undertaking.

Some of these photos were taken while the museum was open but, most were before and after hours "through the fence" shots.

See some more of the photos that I took here or click below.