Family Heritage Lives on in Restored Challenge Windmill

Reader Contribution by Jan Stafek
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A unique Challenger windmill was erected on the Oscar and Mable Hatlelid homestead in Burke County, North Dakota, between 1905 and 1910. It was used to pump water for stock from a 60-foot well.

In the 1980s, lightning broke the tower and the wheel fell off. In 1995, Ken Hatlelid, Oscar’s son, rescued all the metal parts from the top of the tower and found four pieces of rotted wood parts from the wheel’s fins. He took them to his home in Eugene, Oregon, and with a lot of studying and experimenting, reconstructed the wheel. New fins were made with redwood flume stock from a 4-foot-diameter pipe built in Medford, Oregon, in 1924. The wheel was mounted on a 12-foot tower in Ken’s backyard.

In 2014, Oscar’s grandson, Dennis Hatlelid, moved the windmill to Denton, Montana. Dennis repaired and reconstructed part of the cast operating system. The wood parts were sanded and repainted to their original colors of white with green tips.

Jan Stafek, Eugene, Oregon.

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