ASME-Landmark:Batavia Windmills


The early mass-produced, self-governing windmills in the Batavia Historical Society Museum and Research Center's collection were designed for ease of assembly, operation, and maintenance by six manufacturing companies in the town of Batavia, Illinois from 1863 to 1951. During this time, Batavia became known as "The Windmill City" for being the largest windmill manufacturer in the U.S.

Windmills of various designs have been known for many centuries throughout the world, principally for lifting water and grinding grains. Immigrants brought Dutch-style and other windmill designs to the New World as early as 1621. These designs were complete buildings built on-site, requiring the care and maintenance of a full time miller. In colonial New England, given its hilly topography and relatively wet climate, water-powered mills were common. However, by the mid-19th century, western expansion fueled the need for an improved means to pump water in flatter, drier, and more remote regions.

Connecticut machinist Daniel Halladay and other mechanically inclined inventors sought to fill this need. Several of them set up factories in Batavia as it was a good location for both the manufacture and distribution of their new designs. Halladay's mechanical design of the wind engine system of gears and linkages made efficient use of centrifugal and gravitational forces in controlling the windmill blade's resistance to airflow. Through Halladay's patent, the windmill's blade orientation was automatically adjusted to the wind to provide constant wheel speed. See ASME website for more information