The last major piece of our Windmills: Sailing the Skies exhibit is now in place. Recent visitors will have seen an old portable windmill on display at the west end of the Village Main Street, near the General Store. This portable windmill is believed to have been constructed by Abram B. Wiebe who homesteaded a farm near Mitchell in 1877. It was brought to our collection in 1985 by then curator John C. Reimer. In preparation for this year’s theme, Peter Wiebe once again brought his skills to MHV and rebuilt the sails for this windmill.

Guests may wonder how the simple wood-frame sails would ever catch any wind to produce and deliver energy to the crusher inside. These sails would have been covered with fabric when it was actually time to use the mill. An example of such a sail is on display in the exhibit in the Gerhard Ens Gallery.

Portable windmills were frequently used to saw wood and grind feed for animals. The energy of the wind was captured by the windmill and transferred through pulleys and belts to operate the equipment. This portable windmill will reside in its new location for the balance of the summer.

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About the Author

Barry is the Executive Director of the Mennonite Heritage Village. While he does not consider himself to be a historian, he places a high value on the preservation and interpretation of the Mennonite and pioneer stories that help people of all ages understand and appreciate their heritage. Learn more about the MHV.

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