Octagonal Bank of New Zealand banker's desk carved from Australian red cedar, Dunedin, circa 1883.

Octagonal Bank of New Zealand banker's desk carved from Australian red cedar, Dunedin, circa 1883.
Octagonal Bank of New Zealand banker's desk carved from Australian red cedar, Dunedin, circa 1883.

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Wind Power in the South Plains, Part 2 - Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Continued from Part 1...

The G-Scale model train set-up is the second major exhibit in Building 1 of the American Windmill Museum. And it's a WOW! The large model train layout has a 3,000-foot-long mainline track with dioramas of the South Plains. All the windmills in the dioramas were printed with 3-D printers.

In order to travel along the walls of the building, the trains must be elevated to 13 feet to clear the doors. One of the largest spiral helixes, for a model train, lets the trains run up a constant two percent grade. Each spiral is 15 feet in diameter. With two tracks, the trains can run up and down at the same time.

The dioramas of cities and farms explore the relationship between windmills and railroads. There is a behind-the-scenes engineer who keeps the computer running for ten different model trains.

Diorama of Lubbock in 1941.

The detail is fantastic in 
these train set dioramas.

Here's a Barnum and Bailey Circus train.

A windmill helps with powering a pump
to irrigate corn, cotton, and sunflowers.

There was one very small-gauge railroad as well. The train is so small in relation to the house that the train looks more like a big snake.

Some of the dioramas were a little too realistic! 

Someone doesn't think much of 
manufactured homes.

The most fascinating and unique part of the railroad was a spiral helix designed by Shelley Harris, P.E. (Professional Engineer), and constructed by Shelley Harris, Sandra Harris, and Shirley Offutt. This is a one-of-a-kind helix and I loved watching the trains go through it to get to the next floor.

This one-of-a-kind spiral helix takes
trains from one floor to the next.


See the diorama of this in the 
next photo.

Yellow Canyon House Ranch
and windmill.

A cute English cottage.

Some of the miniature houses are
cut open to show the inside of the homes.

When you walk from the main part of Building 1, you go through a short hall to the Garrison Millstone Collection, there is a series of original paintings from the children's book, "The Train Story." They are just beautiful. The curator told me that the artist who donated the paintings, painted an extra panel that had windmills in it. None of the art prints from the original book show a windmill.

In the set of art photos below, the very last one on the bottom right is the extra original painting by the artist who wanted to depict windmills in one of the pieces donated here.
Enlarge this photo to see the windmills
in the painting on the bottom right.

A close-up of one of the paintings.

I was so taken by the lovely art, that I completely missed the miniature houses! The miniature house collection was made by Alta Reeds of Lubbock. They are displayed in several places in the museum. Fifteen of them are used in the model train layout. I saw those and they're very impressive. Sixty-one others are displayed in glass cases along the west interior wall of Building 1. Mrs. Reeds took about thirty years of constant work to build and furnish these remarkable homes. If we go there again, I will make it a point to examine the miniature houses more extensively.

The last exhibit in Building 1 is the Garrison Millstone Collection. When the Flowerdew Post Mill was moved from Virginia to Lubbock, a rare collection of mill stones accompanied the windmill. Originally part of the Paul Flory Millstone Collection, these stones have been documented by their composition, their use, and as closely as possible to the date they were used. Some of these were used in windmills and others were used in water mills.

Millstones for different purposes.

Mortar and pestle.

Millstones for diverse types of 

Grain grinding mill stone.
(Monolithic millstone grit.)

Mineral grinding millstone.
(Esopus conglomerate.)

All about wheat grinding.

Almost anything that could be turned into a powder was ground by these stones. They were big and heavy and, at the time, expensive. The grooves or furrows cut into the face of the stone by stone dressers moved the material from the center to the outer edges where it was collected. Grinding stones were essential to everyday life and they have been used for thousands of years.

Small laboratory millstone, 
(Esopus stone.)

Black powder millstone.

Beech nut hulling millstone.
(Millstone grit.)

Below is an 1870 kitchen sink drain. It was fitted through the exterior wall of a house and set below the pipe of a kitchen sink. This stone drained water away from the house to soak into the ground. Rags would have been stuffed in the pipe to keep out vermin in winter. [From an 18th-century house in Manheim, Pennsylvania.]

A kitchen sink drain. 
Coprolite grinding.

Coprolite millstone.

Apple cider millstone. (Sandstone.)

These stones could slowly decompose over the years because of the grinding action and weather. Many times, an iron ring would be placed around the outside of the stone to hold it together. 

Any items that were ground would have fine particles of stone included in the final product. For example, if you were grinding wheat into flour, you could expect to be eating some finely ground stone powder in your flour.

You can tell by the various thicknesses
of the mill stones how much they were

Hershey's chocolate milling roller.

Hemp millstone.

This exhibit was awesome. I had no idea there were so many types of millstones!

From here, we crossed over into Building 2. In the opening hallway were historic photos taken by Mr. B.H. "Tex" Burdick. 

About Mr. "Tex" Burdick, 
the photographer.

A photo of "Tex" Burdick.
Top man Carl Boyd. See the
description in the photo below.
[Photo by "Tex" Burdick.]

Photo by "Tex" Burdick. The
description is in the photo below.

Have you ever heard of windmill weights or crescent weights? We never had until today. This museum has collections of all types of weights. Windmill weights were used on windmills that did not have orienting tails to help balance the mill on top of the tower. Many times the weights were distinctive figures germane to one company, for example, horses or cows. Other weights used were governing weights to help control the speed of the wheel. 

Continued in the photo below.

Oops, I missed the continuation
of this description. Mea culpa.

Next, we learned about crescent weights. You better make sure the points of the crescent face up, not down.

Crescent weights.

Windmill stories.

The rest of the main part of Building 2 has odds and ends:

  • Out in the South Plains, there aren't a lot of grasses or materials for birds to use for nests. The birds adapted and made nests out of wire and barbed wire! The displays are the actual wire nests. The birds are fake.

  • There is a history of "80 John," a legendary black rancher. One of the displays made me cry. There was a description of 80 John's last minutes of his life and it reminded me of my mom's last minutes.

This touched me very deeply.
  • Information on the windmiller's chuck wagon.

  • How the Aermotor Windmills came to be. It all started with a dictionary stand!

La Verne Noyes' dictionary stand.
  • A whole section is dedicated to the Aermotor Windmills, the most popular windmills ever made.

Original 1888 Aermotor.

Aermotor windmills.

Aermotor poster.

  • The Twin Wheel windmill
A very unique windmill!

The massive amounts of huge windmills in this hall blew us away! Check these out. Just wow!

Bob is dwarfed by these babies!

So, we thought we were done with the museum; however, there was one last surprise in store. That surprise was "The Legacy of the Wind" windmill mural which covers 6,000 square feet of wall space in the events center room. The mural is by artist La Gina Fairbetter. About three other artists helped her paint this. The wall is 200 feet long by 34 feet high. Check it out!

Many portions of this mural would make
terrific jigsaw puzzles.

I like the wooden windmill in 
the corner next to the mural. 

When we went to use the restrooms, we found even more art in the hallway. These are beautiful wood marquetry walls. 

At the end of our four hours in the American Windmill Museum, we made our way into the gift shop. Even that is amazing. There is a huge windmill blade hanging like a fan in the ceiling of the gift shop. The wall behind the cashier looks like old town storefronts. 

This whole museum is just over the top. We were mightily impressed. If you are going anywhere near Lubbock, make time for this museum!

From the museum, we made a quick stop to see Prairie Dog Town. I always like to get a nature fix when possible. As luck would have it, the baby prairie dogs were out!

Protective mama prairie dog.

Baby prairie dogs exploring.

More baby prairie dogs.

On the way back to the RV park, we drove past the Silent Wings Museum (honoring glider pilots in WW II). It was getting late and there was only an hour until they closed. We decided to skip it today and go there the next time we're in town.

Silent Wings Museum in Lubbock.

Back at the RV park, we had a beautiful sunset. Overall, this was a great day! 

We definitely need a Volksmarch in Lubbock, Texas. There's a Buddy Holly memorial, murals, Texas Tech University, National Ranching Heritage Center, the American Windmill Museum, McKenzie Main City Park, Lubbock Brazos River Trail, Prairie Dog Town, and Mae Simmons Park. 


  1. WOW! Great write-up! Your pictures and comments convince me that I have to return to this museum. I thought we'd seen it all, but obviously not. Incredible.........THANK YOU!


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