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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Litchfield in Montgomery County, Illinois — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
 

Litchfield's Wind Mill Factory

 
 
Litchfield's Wind Mill Factory Marker image. Click for full size.
By Jason Voigt, October 2, 2020
1. Litchfield's Wind Mill Factory Marker
Inscription.  In the late 1800's in Shelby County, Illinois, William W. McDaniel and his son John H. started the McDaniel & Son blacksmith and livery store. John began developing an idea to harness the abundant Illinois wind to improve farm production and rural life. In 1888, John successfully presented his idea as the New Era Wind Mill during the 4th of July celebration in Windsor, IL. John then moved west to Litchfield in 1892 for access to the railroad system. He opened McDaniel & Son with his son, George, and thus began the manufacturing of the New Era Wind Mill in 1895.

The story next moves to Saint Louis, Missouri, and the 1904 World's Fair. The fair was especially popular with the rural public because it was their primary source to learn about the newest agriculture products and technologies. McDaniel brought his New Era Wind Mill to the Wind Mill Hill portion of the Agricultural Exhibit at the World's Fair. Wind Mill Hill covered several acres and showcased how technology was harnessing the power of the wind to improve not only farming methods, but also, rural life. The left photo shows the seriousness of the competition at Wind Mill Hill.
Litchfield's Wind Mill Factory Marker image. Click for full size.
By Jason Voigt, October 2, 2020
2. Litchfield's Wind Mill Factory Marker
Marker is behind the Litchfield Museum and Route 66 Welcome Center.
The New Era Wind Mill is at the far left in the picture. The right photo shows the New Era Wind Mill powering a pressurized water delivery system for domestic, indoor plumbing in an isolated, rural area in Alabama.

McDaniel & Son was awarded a medal and a diploma at the end of the Wind Mill Hill competition for their New Era Wind Mill design, the highest award given by the St. Louis World's Fair.

McDaniel & Son attached a unique, automatic, and self-feeding grain grinder to the New Era Wind Mill to clearly demonstrate their windmill could do so much more than just pump water. This grinder demonstration was awarded another medal and a diploma.

A wind mill in general is a tower, a fan, a steering vane, a pumping drive shaft, and gearing that makes the drive shaft go up and down as the fan spins. The New Era Wind Mill could be fitted with two types of gearing - a "direct drive" and a "geared-back drive."

The New Era Wind Mill's "direct drive" attaches the pumping drive shaft directly to the fan providing very rapid up and down movement, which is suitable for areas with variable or light winds. This is especially critical when less expensive and smaller diameter, tubular wells are used. Tubular wells use the well's collection and delivery pipe itself as the cylinder for the pump's up and down plunger, or piston, to lift water to the surface.
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The plunger is sealed watertight in the tube with a leather fitting, but, that critical piece can be worn down when sand enters the tube along with the water. As the leather seal wears, the pump's efficiency decreases, making rapid up and down movement of the pump's plunger even more critical.

The New Era Windmill's "geared-back drive" uses a gear box that reduces the shaft's up and down movement to one cycle every 3 1/3 revolutions of the fan. This arrangement slows down the drive shaft, which suits itself to areas with higher, steady winds and larger wells using heavy duty pumps. It also delivers 3 1/3 times more power to the drive shaft than the "direct drive," so it can power other farm equipment, such as the automatic, self-feeding grain grinder McDaniel & Son displayed at the World Fair's Wind Mill Hill.

After John H. McDaniel passed in 1914, George McDaniel and son, John C., owned and operated the factory and expanded the business. But by 1927, electric pumps were replacing wind mills and most of the New Era Wind Mills were being exported to South America. George sold the New Era license and closed the factory located on Clinton Street.

With the factory closed, McDaniel & Son moved to 118 West Ryder Street and continued to sell wind mill parts, along with plumbing and heating supplies.

In honor of the McDaniel & Son's New Era
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Wind Mill Factory, we have placed a facsimile wind mill here giving a close view of how the famous wind mill operated - as well as providing a unique photo opportunity!
 
Erected 2020.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: AgricultureIndustry & Commerce.
 
Location. 39° 10.624′ N, 89° 39.968′ W. Marker is in Litchfield, Illinois, in Montgomery County. Marker can be reached from Old Route 66 North south of West Kirkham Street. Marker is behind the Litchfield Museum and Route 66 Welcome Center. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 334 Old Rte 66 N, Litchfield IL 62056, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The American Radiator Plant Cornerstone (within shouting distance of this marker); Route 66 (within shouting distance of this marker); The Litchfield Community High School 1924-1997 (within shouting distance of this marker); Litchfield Museum & Route 66 Welcome Center (within shouting distance of this marker); The Vic Suhling Sign (within shouting distance of this marker); Fine Dining on Rte 66 (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Ariston Café, Litchfield, Illinois (about 300 feet away); Litchfield, Illinois (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Litchfield.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on November 9, 2020. It was originally submitted on November 9, 2020, by Jason Voigt of Glen Carbon, Illinois. This page has been viewed 47 times since then and 6 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on November 9, 2020, by Jason Voigt of Glen Carbon, Illinois.
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Mar. 1, 2021