Massive windmill collection displays farm heritage

Pure Nebraska
Published: Aug. 11, 2023 at 10:27 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 11, 2023 at 10:46 AM CDT
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McCOOL JUNCTION, Neb. (KOLN) - Roger Bailey of McCool Junction has been collecting windmills since 1985, and now he’s looking to donate his collection that experts say is extremely unique and rare.

“I noticed they were disappearing off the landscape,” Bailey said. “I decided I would fix up one of them, and I didn’t know there was only one kind. Every one’s a little different. Every company thought they had the best idea for a windmill, but usually everyone had a problem eventually.”

Experts say Bailey’s collection is extremely rare. They believe it’s the largest windmill collection in the world that’s privately held.

“It represents easily 150 years of windmill history and farm culture,” Kregel Windmill Factory Museum Executive Directory Issiaih Yott said. “You have windmills here both made of wood and steel. This stuff is the big stuff, the rarest stuff, the stuff that nobody’s ever seen, because Roger took the time to store it, acquire it, and do the upkeep on it. It’s one of a kind, there is nothing like it in the world.”

Each piece has it’s own story. “There’s a big Aeromotor here,” Yott said. “You just don’t find them that big anymore. It’s a 20-foot wide wheel. We are used to seeing a 10-foot wheel.”

The collection also showcases a Halladay windmill tail section from the 1860s.

“Halladay Standard is a premium blue chip name in the earliest years of windmill manufacturing, when they were still making them out of wood before they transitioned them into steel.”

And then there’s the twin wheel windmill, which really stands out.

“Twin wheels were only made in two places in America for a very short time,” Yott said. “There were roughly less than 100 of them made. I’ve only ever seen two, and one exists in this collection. It’s pristine and it works. You don’t find pieces like this anymore. It would be like you are taking a hike in the countryside and you see a unicorn. It’s that rare.”

Roger Bailey’s collection of windmills is not only found at his home, but he has some housed in a building in downtown McCool Junction as well. It turns out Roger is now looking to donate these windmills.

“Our endgame is simple, we want to save this collection and we need help doing it,” Yott said. “We need partners.”

The goal is to house the collection in a building in a city along the Interstate 80 in Nebraska.

“And in order to do this, we would need to acquire land, and build a structure to house the 300 some pieces,” Yott said.

The collection would be for all to see.

“It would be open to the public,” Yott said. “It would be a great addition to the state of Nebraska as far as tourism. But more importantly than that, we would have saved a collection that is one of a kind in the world.”

If you would like to help, contact the Kregel Windmill Factory Museum for more information on a project that seeks to preserve farm heritage.

“I’m ready to donate them, if someone would make a home for them,” Bailey said.