9. The Iconic Windmill of Blawenburg

Updated: Jun 21, 2019

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The windmill pictured is from the 1960s when Broad View Farm (Van Zandt farm) had an International Harvester dealership. Note the height of the windmill and the reservoir for the water that it pumped from beneath the ground. The dealership is now the Elks Lodge on Route 518.

Windmills have had a long and important history. They serve the purpose of converting energy from one form to another so that it can be used for a specific purpose. On farms in previous centuries, that purpose was to convert wind energy to mechanical energy to do work. Early windmills used wind power to turn millstones to grind grain into flour. This replaced the effort of animals and humans. A more common use for windmills on farms was to draw water from wells, again replacing human labor with wind power. On some farms, the windmills were not set to convert wind. Instead, they helped farmers by telling them the direction and velocity of the wind so they could predict the weather. You could think of them as the Weather Channel of yore.

The Broad View Farm, owned and managed by J. Percy Van Zandt for much of the 20th century, had a windmill that served as a means of pumping water for use on the farm. The windmill sat near the barn, which is now the Elks’ Lodge, and it was Percy’s pride and joy, according to his nephew, Bill Van Zandt. Percy took care of it like it was part of the family, tending to it daily. It has been reported that he climbed the ladder to check on it when he was in his 80s, despite family disapproval.

This picture of the windmill was taken for the Blawenburg Village nomination to the National Historic Register in 1984. Note the ladder on the barn side of the windmill for access to the mechanisms at the top.

Photo credit: Clem Fiori

Richard Van Zandt, Percy’s grandson, recently sent his recollections of the iconic windmill.