2017 Day Trip: Batavia, Illinois / Batavia – City of Windmills

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Batavia – City of Windmills.

Batavia was once the “Windmill Capital of the World” because of the number of windmill manufacturers in the city.

From the 1860s until the 1950s, Batavia, Illinois, was home to six companies manufacturing windmills that greatly accelerated America’s ability to settle “the West.” The Second World War effectively ended an industry as a result of expanded availability of electricity.

Today,  about 18 restored  windmills are on display near the Government Center, public places and commercial sites.

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Batavia - City of Windmills

Batavia Riverwalk along Fox River / Batavia – City of Windmills

 

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Batavia was a natural choice for windmills. There was rail access, abundant native limestone available for factory construction, skilled work force and waterpower on the Fox River. With the rapid expansion of windmill manufacturers, Batavia, ushered in the industrial “green” revolution in the country and beyond. The Batavia manufacturers produced hundreds of windmills annually and employed hundreds of local workers, a significant segment of the population of 3,800 at the industry’s peak in 1900.

But after the Second World War, the windmills industry died mmostly due to expanded availability of electricity.

Six windmill manufacturing companies operated in Batavia between 1860s to 1950s.

U.S. Wind Engine & Pump Company
Challenge Wind Mill & Feed Mill Company
Appleton Manufacturing Company
Batavia Wind Mill Company
Snow Manufacturing Company
Danforth Windmill Company.

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“BRING ‘EM HOME” CAMPAIGN

In 1994, a campaign was launched to “Bring ‘em home.” Private donations from businesses, community groups and individuals financed acquisition, restoration and placement of a variety of locally built antique windmills. The history of each is profiled in detailed signage. New commercial developments are encouraged to include windmill displays.

Today,  about 17 restored  windmills are on display near the Government Center, public places and commercial sites. Nine of seventeen windmills are in the Batavia Riverwalk along the Fox River.

Three of those six windmill companies – U.S. Wind Engine, Challenge and Appleton – were large, nationally known companies.
The three structures can still be seen in Batavia.
The Appleton Manufacturing Company building is now the Batavia Government Center / West bank of the Fox River.
The Challenge Wind Mill Company building are now office buildings / East bank of Fox River.
U.S. Wind Engine & Pump Company is now BEI Properties / Heart of historic downtown Batavia.

The Batavia Depot Museum and Gustafson Research Center contain windmill memorabilia and are a block distant from the display of windmills along the Fox River.

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Batavia - City of Windmills

U.S. Model E Windmill – by U.S. Wind Engine & Pump Company. In front of Appleton Manufacturing Company building, which is now the Batavia Government Center   / Batavia – City of Windmills

 

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[1] U.S. Model E Windmill
Manufactured by the U.S. Wind Engine & Pump Company of Batavia, Illinois..
Circa 1900s – 1920s.

U.S. Model E Windmill  greets visitors to Batavia’s Government Center and the Riverwalk.The Model E was particularly popular with southern Great Plains ranchers. The windmill stands in front of the Batavia’s Government Center. The building was former Appleton windmill factory built in 1901. The restored facility now houses Batavia city offices.

 

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Batavia - City of Windmills

U.S. Model E Windmill U.S. – by Wind Engine & Pump Company / Batavia – City of Windmills

 

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Batavia - City of Windmills

Pearl Steel Windmill – by Batavia Wind Mill Company/ Batavia – City of Windmills

 

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[2] Pearl Steel Windmill
Manufactured by  Batavia Wind Mill Company of Batavia, Illinois.
Circa 1890s – 1990s.

 

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Batavia - City of Windmills

Windmill Court / Batavia – City of Windmills

 

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WINDMILL COURT
Dedicated to Batavia’s Historic Windmill Companies

MECHANICAL ENGINEERING HERITAGE COILLECTION
Self-regulating Windmills
1863-1951.

These windmills, manufactured by U.S. Wind Engine and Pump Company, Challenge Company, Appleton Manufacturing Company, and Batavia Wind Mill and Aermotor Company include many of early self-regulating types. First developed by Daniel Halladay in 1854, self-regulating mechanism automatically adjusted the wheel or blade angle to maintain near-constant speed and power in varying winds, without an operator’s constant attention.

These windmills were designed for easy assemble, operation, and maintenance using only simple hand tools, primarily used to pump water or remote farms throughout most of North America. Windmills also filled railroad water tower, powered feed and saw mills, and drove other agricultural machines.

Six companies mass produced windmills in Batavia, Illinois between 1863 and 1951.

ASME- American Society of Mechanical Engineers. 2013.

The Windmill Court has three Windmills..
[3] Goodhue Special Windmill – by Appleton Manufacturing Company.
[4] US Holladay Vaneless Windmill – by U.S. Wind Engine & Pump Company.
[5] Challenge Vaneless ‘Model 1913′ – by The Challenge Company.

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Batavia - City of Windmills

Batavia – City of Windmills

 

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Batavia - City of Windmills

Challenge Steel Windmill – by Challenge Wind Mill & Feed Mill Company /Batavia – City of Windmills

 

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[6] Challenge Steel Windmill.
Manufactured by The Challenge Wind Mill & Feed Mill Company of Batavia, Illinois.

First Introduced to the public in 1906, the Challenge Steel was top-of-the-line mill marketed by the Challenge Company till the end of World War I. The mill was retired completely by 1927, when the company introduced the first scuuessful oil-bath windmill, the Challenge 27.

The sole ornamentation of the Challenge Steel mill was the black stencilled word “Challenge” on the one side and “Challenge Co., Batavia, IL.” on the other.

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Batavia - City of Windmills

Challenge 27 Windmill / Batavia – City of Windmills

 

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[7] Challenge 27 Windmill
Manufactured by The Challenge Company of Batavia, Illinois.
Circa 1927 – 1940s.

In 1927, the Challenge Company introduced the Challenge 27, which proved to be the most successful American windmills of the 20th century. It was widely used throughout the US and overseas. Some are used even today. The Challenge 27 is currently the only windmill in Batavia that pumps water.

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Challenge Dam and former Challenge Building  / Batavia - City of Windmills

Challenge Dam and former Challenge factory building, now office buildings. / Batavia – City of Windmills

 

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Challenge Dam and original Challenge factory buildings, now factory buildings.

Walking along Batavia Riverwalk, I came across the Challenge Dam on Fox River. On the east of river bank are buildinga which once were the Challenge Wind Mill & Feed Mill Company building. All Challenge mills were manufactured in these factory buildings. It now serves as office buildings.  The factory Chimney still stands tall and proudly bears the “Challenge” name. In fact, the dam was named as Challenge Danm, because of its proximity to the Challenge Company.

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Batavia - City of Windmills

Challenge OK Windmill – by Challenge Company / Batavia – City of Windmills

 

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Challenge “OK” Model
Manufactured by Challenge Wind Mill & Feed Mill Company of Batavia, IL.

Challenge “OK” Model was introduced in the Challenge line of mills in 1885. The “OK” was the first solid wheel wooden mill produced by Challenge Company.

 

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Batavia - City of Windmills

Challenge OK Windmill – by Challenge Wind Mill & Feed Mill Company / Batavia – City of Windmills

 

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Batavia - City of Windmills

Challenge Dandy Windmill – by Challenge Company / Batavia – City of Windmills

 

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[9] Challenge Dandy Windmill
Manufactured by Challenge Company of batavia, Illinois.
Circa 1891- 1920s.

Challenge Dandy Windmill was introduced in 1891. It is the first steel windmill produced by the Challenge Company.

 

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NOTE: All the above nine windmills are all located in the along the Batavia Riverwalk.
It extends along the Depot Pond and Fox River to a north point pavilion,
from where one gets the grand views of the Fox River, Challenge Dam and what once was Challenge factory building.

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Batavia - City of Windmills

US Model E Windmill – by U.S. Wind Engine & Pump Company. The buildings is now part of BEI properties. / Batavia – City of Windmills

 

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[10] US Model E Windmill
Manufactured by U.S. Wind Engine & Pump Company.

The building was once U.S. Wind Engine & Pump Company.
It is now part of BEI properties. BEI is Batavia Enterprises, Inc., is a real estate company with customers throughout the Fox Valley. It has properties in Batavia, Geneva, St. Charles, West Chicago, and Elburn

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Batavia - City of Windmills

Batavia – City of Windmills

 

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[11] I could not find name of this windmill. It stands in front of BEI properties.

In one day, in a couple of hours I could see 11 windmills. There are 17 windmills.
11 of 17 is Not bad. I think!

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Fabyan Forest Preserve, Geneva, IL.

Fabyan Forest Preserve, Geneva, IL.

 

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There is also a windmill in the nearby Fabyan Forest Preserve, Geneva, IL. For more, click here..

 

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Related Links:

2017 Day Trip: Batavia..

My Vacation: Exploring the Prairie State of Illinois.. click here..
2017 Exploring Home State Illinois, through Public Art.. click here..

My Vacations Photo Gallery.. click here..
Vacation: USA / Illinois.. click here..
Vacation: USA.. click here..
Vacation: UK.. click here..
Vacation: India.. click here..
UNESCO World Heritage Site.. click here..
Home: Public Art in Chicago.. .. click here..

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