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Wyoming’s strong, relentless winds have proven to be an asset to both home and industry when it is harnessed. Wyoming
ranked 14th nationally in terms of wind projects alone in 2014, and the state had
1,410 megawatts of installed capacity. But how has wind been harnessed to get us to
where we are today?
In the 1860’s, windmills were used to pump water supplies for Union Pacific’s steam locomotives. These were known as Halladay windmills, named after Daniel Halladay, were able to adjust wind direction and control the speed of the wind wheel. Halladay became a major supplier of windmills for industry and agriculture.
Ranching in vast areas with little moisture was made possible by water pumping windmills. New and improved windmills from Danforth Windmill Company contained fewer parts and claimed to experience less friction. With windmills sprinkling the west so aide in ranching and agriculture, they took a turn towards electricity production in the 1920’s. Inventors and entrepreneurs were determined to electrify the rural west.
The first electricity producing wind turbines were made up of 2 to 3 blade configuration, propeller blades, a radio battery and a power light bulb. Eventually, these wind turbines transformed into what we see today producing upwards of 270 billion kilowatts of energy in recent years.
This article is provided through our partnership with the Wyoming State Historical Society.