Day trips: Get blown away by windmill museum in Lubbock

Compiled by William P. Thompson: Freedom Newspapers

The “most comprehensive collection of historic windmills in the world” awaits visitors at the American Wind Power Center in Lubbock, according to the center’s Web site. Coy Harris, the center’s executive director, said 92 windmills dating back to the 1870’s are housed inside a large building on the property and 50 windmills stand on property outside the building.

“We have every model of windmill made by the Aeromotor Windmill Company on the ground outside,” Harris said. “They date back to the 1890’s. The windmills inside the building are too rare to place outside.”

The windmills at the center range in size from 26 inches tall to 25 feet in height. A giant contemporary wind turbine is also on site which is visible from all over Lubbock.

HOW TO GET THERE
From Portales take U.S. 70 north to U.S. 84. Follow U.S. 84 east all the way to Lubbock. Take Loop 289 east to Interstate 27. Take I-27 south to exit 3. Travel east on Texas Highway 114 less than one mile to the wind power center’s entrance. It’s a journey of just over 100 miles, about two hours.

WHY DID AMERICANS USE WINDMILLS?
According to the center’s Web site, the windmill “gave railroads access to underground water, permitted ranchers to fence and selectively breed cattle … where there were no rivers, streams or lakes.”

The wind power center has plenty of examples of functioning windmills equipped with pumps and tanks to show how the windmills work. The windmills have been given to the wind power center by families from across the country. A rare twin-wheel windmill built in Hutchinson, Kan. is on site. It has two 12-foot wheels on one tower. All the windmills inside the main building can be seen by taking a self-guided tour which is completely handicapped-accessible.

A gift shop on site contains books, clothing and models of various windmills.

HOURS AND FEES
The wind power center is open Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and admission is $5 per person or $10 per family. Call 1-806-747-8734 for more information.

WHAT ELSE IS THERE TO SEE NEARBY?
An agricultural museum which houses many antique tractors is on the same property as the wind power center, about a quarter of a mile away from the wind power center.