Sunday, October 10, 2010

Far Afield

Windmill, originally uploaded by William 74.

I love this old windmill. It's in a field out in Elburn, Illinois, and I've shot it probably half a dozen times now. I took this on a chilly afternoon in February or April, before those vines that grow up the tower were in bloom-and they do bloom, nicely. It's surrounded by a little stand of trees, not far off the road, with a small cistern at the base. I can't help but wonder how long ago the rest of the farm buildings were taken down-surely there was a house nearby. But this windmill has stood sentinel for as long as I can remember.

I have no idea what brand of windmill this is. Due to Elburn's proximity to Batavia, I like to think it's a Challenge mill. The Challenge Company began producing windmills in the 1800's, introducing the Improved Sectional in the 1890's. Widely distributed throughout the plains states, the Improved was the first really successful design from the company. This one is a much later windmill, probably an early 20th century item, such as a Challenge 27. Mills such as this are still fairly common, and were popular because they required little maintenance, mainly gear oil changes about once a year.

It's much the worse for wear, with broken vanes and a disintegrated wood platform at the top. Amazingly, though, it still spins freely, albeit lopsidedly due to the broken vanes.

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