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Iconic windmill moves to the entrance of Farm and Ranch Museum

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The skyline at the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum has a new look.

The large windmill next to the Museum’s Bruce King Building was taken down and moved to another part of the 47-acre property on Monday, May 4. The 20-foot fan is now on a new, 40-foot, steel tower near the front gate.

There are safety and aesthetic reasons for the move. The old, wooden tower, which was built in 1998, is in a high-pedestrian traffic area and was beginning to show signs of decay. In its new location, the structure adds a dramatic look to the front entrance of the campus, where the gate and arch were to be painted this week.

The windmill is an Aermotor 702 model, with a 20-foot wheel, or fan. It was built circa 1933-58 and was donated to the museum by the Chihuahuan Desert Rangeland Research Center north of Las Cruces. It was used by the College Ranch Camp Well site until 1981, when it was abandoned due to an equipment malfunction. It was re-erected in 1998, the year the museum opened.

Warren Construction worked on the relocation project for a few weeks, building the new footings and steel tower. Weaver’s Crane Service helped move the massive fan.

Windmills were important for agriculture in the Southwest. While they could not pump sufficient amounts of water for large-scale irrigation, they could be used for herds of livestock, and watering vegetable gardens and fruit trees.

The museum has three other windmills on site, one near the livestock pens, and two indoors in the Heritage Gallery.

The museum is currently closed to the public due to the COVID-19 health pandemic.

For more information, visit www.nmfarmandranchmuseum.org.