In Oklahoma, where wind is practically a natural resource, windmills are the stuff museums are made of. Check out the Shattuck Windmill Museum at Shattuck (located where the state’s “panhandle” meets the pan).
The park is home to 34 vintage windmills – some more than 100 years old – from companies like Aermotor, Giant-Althouse-Wheeler, Challenge, Currie, Dempster and Parish. All have been painstakingly restored to near original condition.
The park is proof of what even a small community (Shattuck has a population of 1,500) can accomplish.
“I read about a man who wanted a museum to display his windmills,” says Phillis Ballew, park instigator, “even if he did it himself. Our community always talked about having a museum, but nobody did much. Nothing ever happened.”
Once a four-acre site was given in perpetuity, plenty of things began to happen. The park, opened in 1996, also features an authentic dugout home.
Alexander and Eva Erlich and their nine children staked a homestead in 1904 about seven miles from Shattuck. They constructed a dugout for shelter until a proper home could be built The dugout remained in the Erlich family for nearly a century before it was donated to the museum and reconstructed. In later years, the dugout served as a shelter for cattle.
“The dugout wasn’t always pretty, but it served several functions,” Ballew said. “The temperature was fairly constant. Wildfires and thunderstorms that came without warning were prevalent, and the dugout offered protection.’ Buffalo grass turf, complete with cactus, provides insulation on the roof.”
Look for other local lore as well: Shattuck was once known as the “Broomcorn Capital of America.” FC
For more information: The Shattuck Windmill Museum, P.O. Box 227, Shattuck, OK 73858; (580) 938-5146 (580) 938-5291; online at www.shattuckwindmillmuseum.org.