While it cannot generally be seen, the natural force of wind is one of the most primal and influential elements, so how better to celebrate mankind’s history of discovery and experimentation with this most ephemeral of powers than a staggering field with almost 200 windmills.
The museum began as the personal collection of a windmill restorer and collector who, in the 1960s, began documenting and preserving windmills across the country. By the 1990s, the collection had grown to include dozens of windmills, mostly dismantled and just waiting for a home where they could once again rise up and feel the wind through their blades. Luckily, when the collection was moved to Lubbock, Texas in 1997, the city itself provided just such a home.
A variety of windmills of all shapes and sizes were reconstructed on the new grounds, centered on a central museum building. There are simple farmstead scaffolding windmills, larger European-styled mills with small buildings as bases (including the first one installed in Hopewell, Virginia, in the 1600s), and even futuristic wind power factory turbines that tower above the rest. The collection has continued to grow over the years since its creation and is now home to over 160 unique windmills.
The indoor exhibits (admission fee required) include additional displays of the technology, a multi-level model train setup with more than one mile of track, and an events center. There is also a huge section dedicated to miniatures including houses and different scenes from around the world. Docents have additional printed material and a wealth of information on different types of windmills and the centrality of wind power to the westward expansion of the U.S.
The American Wind Power Center is open to the public and can be seen from the road, putting a truly impressive visual to one of the world’s invisible elements.