Call it what it is:
The American Windmill Museum.
Legally, properly, and actually, it’s American Windmill Museum now, but telephone callers speaking on a first-name informal basis, have for years often asked if they had reached the windmill museum, anyway.
Now, Tanya Meadows, director of marketing, can say, “Yes,” instead of, “No, it’s the American Wind Power Center,” which was the former name.
Coy Harris, executive director, remembers that the windmill collection that now totals more than 200, started small with a somewhat unwieldy name: National Windmill Project.
“It was sort of a long name that didn’t mean a whole lot, and we did a DBA on it to change it to the American Wind Power Center. That was more in tune with what we did out here, and easier to say,” he recalls.
“All these years we kept answering the phone, and they would say, ‘Is this the windmill museum?’ And we thought, well, everybody doesn’t know us as the Wind Power Center, everybody knows us as the windmill museum.
“So, we talked about it a lot, and the board just voted to change it to the American Windmill Museum.”
Meadows noted that the wind turbines at the museum are all powered by wind, too. “Now, since we have opened the new building, we have the wind turbines that were in the old building, and the new building is dedicated mostly to wind power machines,” she said.
“Of course, it’s got some windmills in it because we’ve got so many of them.”
She said there is model train layout in the museum, also, and there’s a relationship between steam-engine trains of the past and windmills:
“A lot of people don’t understand that those steam engines could only go 15 to 30 miles before they had to stop for water. Out here in West Texas, there was no surface water – so there were a lot of windmills.”
The museum also has a post mill at its site that came from the James River area of Virginia. It has been made fully operational, and is capable of grinding corn the way it was done when the nation was new.
“I think the main change in the name is going to help us internationally,” Harris said. “We still get a lot of international people here – last week, we got people from Poland and from New Zealand and Australia. It was remarkable.”
He said, “It’s internationally recognized. It’s the biggest collection by far – all sorts of windmills, inside and outside. So, there’s nothing like this anywhere.”
He said, “American Wind Museum – it’s our formal name.”
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