Knowing Your Neighbors: Davidson Windmill

SOUTH RANGE, Wisc. — If you have ever travelled on Highway 13 just outside of Superior, you may have noticed, or missed, an old windmill on the side of the road. Well, it has been nearly 120 years since it was built and is in need of a restoration. The Old-Brule Heritage Society has been raising money for the project to repair years of rot and deterioration of Davidson Windmill.

“This is phase one. We’ve got to get the thing structurally sound. Now you see we’re putting up on the outside. And then what we’re going to be doing, we gotta get a good roof on it. The windmill arms, you can see they’re very rotten. So, we’re gonna have to eventually replace them and try to do it all as nice according to history as we can do it. And so, it’d be the same as it was in 1904 when it was finished,” said Dennis Hill with the Old-Brule Heritage Society

Back then, it took 3 years to build the windmill because all the wood was hand hewn and was in operation for 22 years until 1926.  During it’s time of operation, the windmill was the only one in the area where locals could get their grain ground to flour.

“People would come with their wagons, unload their grain there, they’d camp in his yard. He’d grind the flour for ‘em or whatever, then they’d head back to Brule or Maple or wherever they’re headed. And if the creeks didn’t rise by tomorrow, they would be right there,” said Hill.

Since shutting down, a lot of the wood has rotted, in some places all the way through.  But, even after all this time, the gears and grinding stones are still in good shape. Restoring the windmill is not a cheap endeavor with a price tag of $40,000. As of right now, they have raised half of that, which is enough to get started, but they still need more to finish the project, so it is persevered for generations to come.

“I think that’s really heartwarming because a lot of people, they have seen it and they’ve grown up with it, and they were here their kids, and they’d like to be able to take their grandkids here too.  So, it’s really nice to see people open up their wallets and give us a little helping hand here to do something for the community, because this isn’t ours really. We’re just the caretakers,” said Hill.

Once the Old-Brule Heritage Society gets the remaining funding, and the Davidson Windmill restoration is complete, our kids and grandkids will be able to continue to enjoy the windmill along Highway 13.

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