Humans have harvested energy from the wind for centuries.
Harnessed by the Europeans as early as 900 years ago, wind was used to grind
grain and manufacture goods. Wind powered ships that helped open up new territories,
spurring international trade. In North America, wind energy has been used
since the late 1800s.
Over the years, tens of thousands of farms in the Great Plains relied on
wind pump water for livestock and domestic uses - some still do.
Windmills began to emerge in the 1860s in rural America. By 1890, there
were over 100 manufacturers of water-pumping wind mills. All
told over 8 million were installed in this country. Many of these water-pumping
windmills have been restored and are still operating today with minimal maintenance.