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Texas Forts Trail Region

Participant in the Texas Historical Commission's
Texas Heritage Trails Program

San Angelo: Aermotor Windmill Factory


AERMOTOR WINDMILL FACTORY

Between 1854 and 1920 over seven hundred companies manufactured thousands of windmills. Today, only a few of those companies remain in business and one, Aermotor, is based right here in Texas. It was a round-a-bout journey for Aermotor, a Chicago company that was started in 1888 by inventor LaVerne Noyes and ended up, 120 years later, in the capable hands of a group of West Texas ranchers who purchased Aermotor in 2006. Today, the 30,000 square-foot factory, located in San Angelo, is a machine enthusiast’s dream where almost every part of an Aermotor windmill is made. Sails are stamped from sheet metal, punch presses knock out sail ties, shaved and polished gears bathe in a waterfall of oil, main frames are threaded and drilled, hub shafts undergo refinement, and vanes and helmets are hammered and shaped. The process is a remarkable syncopation in practice for over a century. The few parts and processes not handled at Aermotor are manufactured and performed elsewhere in Texas, making the Aermotor windmill entirely American-made.

Only 45 Aermotor windmills were sold the first year they hit the market. But by 1892, Aermotor was selling 20,000 of its “mathematical” windmills each year as Aermotor captured more and more of the market share. The Aermotor had greater lifting power and smoother pumping action that its competitors, making it a favored windmill for settlers moving west. With mass production in place, Aermotor could drop their windmill prices to about one sixth of the original cost, selling eight-foot windmills for around 25 dollars. An eight-foot windmill will typically pump 180 gallons of water in a 15 to 20 mph wind, raising the water approximately 175 feet from an underground well, statistics that met many of the early settlers’ needs and that made the eight-foot Aermotor a top seller.  In fact, the eight-footer is still the favorite today. 


Location

  • 4276 Dan Hanks Lane
  • San Angelo, Texas
  • 76904

Contact

Hours & Fees

  • Tours available by appointment.

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Map


 

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Read more about windmills in the Handbook of Texas Online.