OSKALOOSA — The Mahaska County Historical Society is pleased to announce that the Mahaska County Iowa Farm Bureau Federation is funding the restoration of the Baker/Gilchrist Windmill.
The Baker windmill at Oskaloosa’s Nelson Pioneer Farm and Museum has been an icon of the Mahaska County Historical Society organization and grounds for many, many years. Originally donated in the 1960s, this wooden structure is more than a century old. This cold winter and high winds have been very hard on the old structures at farm and the exposed windmill was hit harder than the other buildings. The support bracing on the south side blew off during an especially heavy storm in early March.
Shelter Construction will rebuild the windmill following the pattern of the original mill that stood at the Baker Farm. It was taken down on Tuesday morning and hauled to the company’s work yard. The new mill will be a duplicate of the original. The Mahaska County Historical Society Board of Directors wants to maintain the historical integrity of the site and chose to replicate the old mill rather than put up a metal one.
The 1933 Aermotor Mill head originally belonged to the Gilchrist family. It will also receive a restoration. The pump and head haven’t worked for a while, but it was decided to repair the pump and mill so the stock tank can run during events and programs. The working mill head will pump between four and five gallons of water per hour. Wayne DeBruin and Dale VanVeldhuizen, trustees for the Nelson Farm, took the pump to D&D Pump Inc. for repairs.
The one other obstacle to a working windmill and pump has been the tree that, over the course of 40 years, grew to block the free rotation of the mill head. Oskaloosa Tree Service will trim the tree so that it doesn’t interfere with the windmill and looks like a tree should. Even though the Grounds Committee of the MCHS was willing to do the job themselves, it was decided that it would take a professional to make it look right.