Windmills are symbols of the Great Plains and have been used for generations to pump underground water to the surface for irrigating crops, watering livestock, and providing a reliable source of water for laundry, and kitchen use. Nebraska was home to several windmill builders, including the Climax Windmill Factory in Falls City, Charles Dempster Windmills in Beatrice, and the Fairbury Windmill Company in Fairbury. Norma Ehlers remembers their family’s washhouse was by the windmill. They carried water from the windmill tank to a stove inside the washhouse. There, they heated the water to wash clothes, and then put them through a wringer, rollers that squeezed the water out of the sheets and clothing.
Written by Claudia Reinhardt.