Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Homemade Windmills Across America, ca.1900
Much time on my part has been spent in the sub-basement annex of the University of Minnesota library. That's where they keep the old, old, pre-1900 copies of magazines.
I've been doing research on Bartitsu, a rare hybrid martial art, combining ju-jitsu and boxing and was developed by a Victorian Brit named E. W. Barton Wright. Down there in the stacks, among the crumbling pages, are some of the most interesting reading I've come across.
These magazines are so interesting, I could spend hours (and I have) reading through them when I should be doing something else.
Some days, I can't get enough of those crumbling magazines from America and Britain printed in about 1900. Subject matter? It's all over the board: self defense articles, the habits or African and Asian animals, many, many article on prison life for some reason (and it sounds awful!) and a fair amount on travel to exotic places which back then were actually quite exotic and hard to get to, making magazine accounts about the only way for the average person to get to Asia or Africa.
I came across an account of "Windmills of America." It's interesting to see the home-made designs of windmills made by frontier and homesteading farmers out of the materials available to them. Some of these designs are incredibly complex and they certainly show an ability to design and fabricate mechanisms with I imagine, only rudimentary tools.
Are they efficient? Well, that might be another story. But here they are, rickety looking and wonderful.