Vintage Windmill Collection

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

| November 2016

  • Terry’s windmill collection is at home in a beautiful setting along Split Rock Creek, which runs through land he and his wife, Kris, own near Jasper, Minnesota.
    Photo by Renae B. Vander Schaaf
  • An Iron Turbine, manufactured by Mast, Foos & Co. “My favorite windmill is whichever one is my newest acquisition,” Terry says.
    Photo by Renae B. Vander Schaaf
  • Terry and Kris play host to many visitors at their windmill park.
    Photo by Renae B. Vander Schaaf
  • This Pipe Raymond windmill is equipped with a vertical steel mast pipe made as part of its main casting for use on all types of windmill towers without need for alteration of the tower.
    Photo by Renae B. Vander Schaaf
  • The Twin Wheel windmill, built in Kansas from 1919 to 1927, is an exceptionally hard mill to find in any condition. Terry built this full-size replica from scratch when he decided the odds were against finding the real thing.
    Photo by Renae B. Vander Schaaf
  • The Dutch windmill that started the collection. Terry built the windmill for his wife.
    Photo by Renae B. Vander Schaaf
  • Terry demonstrates operation of the Aermotor Tip-Over windmill.
    Photo by Renae B. Vander Schaaf
  • Terry demonstrates operation of the Aermotor Tip-Over windmill.
    Photo by Renae B. Vander Schaaf
  • Terry demonstrates operation of the Aermotor Tip-Over windmill.
    Photo by Renae B. Vander Schaaf
  • Terry demonstrates operation of the Aermotor Tip-Over windmill.
    Photo by Renae B. Vander Schaaf
  • Terry has modified this truck to use in removing, installing and transporting windmills.
    Photo by Renae B. Vander Schaaf
  • Terry’s bone yard of windmill parts and pieces.
    Photo by Renae B. Vander Schaaf

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.