Nothing says Texas like a windmill spinning in the breeze, pumping water from deep beneath the hard, baked soil.
And, if it’s authentic Texas, it will have an iconic name stamped on the tail – Aermotor. The first Aermotor windmill was introduced in 1888 in Illinois, although other windmills existed at the time. Only 24 Aermotor windmills were sold that first year, but by 1892, the number had jumped to 20,000.
Since 1986, Aermotor windmills have been manufactured in San Angelo, deep in the heart of Texas, with the slogan “Power…as free as the wind.”
The San Angelo facility manufactures only the iconic windmill and replacement parts, not wind turbines that produce electricity in parts of the state. Aermotor windmills have undergone several design tweaks since being introduced in 1888, most notably the Aermotor 702 that was manufactured in 1933. That model featured replaceable bearings and screw-type wheel arms.
“A point of pride today is that nothing much has changed for the Aermotor since the 702 was introduced,” said Nick Ohman, general manager of the manufacturing facility in San Angelo.
“It’s the same basic design that came out in 1933,” he said.
A timeline on the Aermotor website notes a point of pride from 1933, too. That was the same year that the Century of Progress International Exposition, also known as the Chicago World’s Fair, was held to celebrate the city’s centennial year. A timeline entry notes that Aermotor dealers and their families were allowed to camp in the Aermotor factory yard and eat in the company restaurant while attending the exposition.
The Aermotor Windmill Company website, aermotorwindmill.com, includes a wealth of information about the company’s history and the windmill itself, including a “How a Windmill Works” section. The website also touts the American-made iron and steel and American craftsmanship that goes into constructing an Aermotor windmill.
“The phrase ‘Made In The USA’ means a lot to everyone at Aermotor Windmill Company,” the site boasts.
The Aermotor windmill is so iconic in Texas that an entire section of the American Windmill Museum in Lubbock is devoted to it. The gift shop features a 24” x 36” Aermotor advertising poster from the early 1900s.
Ohman, general manager of Aermotor Windmill Company, is happy to show off the 40,000 square-foot manufacturing and warehouse facility in San Angelo. Older people especially enjoy touring the plant, no doubt for the nostalgia that the iconic windmills invoke. But younger age groups, too, can appreciate the experience. Students from Angelo State University’s Department of Engineering are among the younger folks who have benefitted from a tour. Groups interested in touring should contact Ohman. He’d be pleased to hear from you.
“I love showing this place off,” he said. “It’s like show and tell for me.”
Visit San Angelo
Aermotor Windmill Company
4277 Dan Hanks Lane
San Angelo, TX 76904
American Windmill Museum
1701 Canyon Lake Drive