Vintage Windmill Collection

Minnesota couple's windmill collection is an unusual display of antique windmills.

| November 2016

While growing up on the South Dakota prairie, Terry Rodman regularly rode his pony to the top of a hill 2 miles away to check on a windmill in a nearby valley. If it was turning, that meant the cattle had water.

As time passed, life moved on. Windmills became just a part of his past, with no special allure. Terry was busy in Jasper, Minnesota, where he owned and operated a blacksmith shop. The operation gradually evolved into a welding shop, and later still into a machinist and manufacturing operation. He occasionally worked on windmills, but when Terry sold the shop in 2009, his hobby became his full-time occupation.

The more he’s learned about windmills – a common part of rural life when Terry was a boy, but less so today, thanks to solar panels and electric pumps – the more his enthusiasm and passion for them has grown. The quest to learn has taken Terry and his wife, Kris, across the country and even overseas.

“It really is my wife’s fault,” Terry says. “She wanted a Dutch windmill, because it was part of her heritage.” In her mind, Kris pictured a small, picturesque windmill she could place in a flower garden. Terry, on the other hand, had a different vision. “If we were going to have windmill,” he says, “we were going to have a windmill.

Collection sprouts from Dutch windmill replica

In his spare time, Terry spent three years constructing a 43-foot replica of a Dutch windmill. It was built in three sections so that it would fit through the shop’s door. Split Rock Creek runs through the couple’s property; the Rodmans placed the windmill nearby. By adding a bridge, a water wheel and a wooden sluice to bring water to the water wheel, it gives the appearance of a working mill.

Inside the mill are pictures and souvenirs from the Rodmans’ trips to the Netherlands. In the past, the large Dutch-type windmill was used to auger water from canal to canal; the water was eventually pumped into the North Sea. The mills were also used to process grain and power sawmills. Most of these mills exist today only as a tourist attraction.