Putting a New Spin on an Old Windmill in Elk Horn

ELK HORN, Iowa  --  For the past couple years, the Danish Windmill in the town of Elk Horn has been silent. The windmill was built in 1848 in Denmark. In 1975, all the pieces were numbered as it was torn down and transported to the Shelby County town where it was re-assembed.

After 40 years, the mill developed some problems.

“Ya gotta listen to the noises, there’s always slight noises that you hear and you learn the sounds of the windmill,” said Danish Windmill General Manager Lisa Riggs. “That’s kind of what happened when we were running the windmill, there was a different noise."

So the windmill was stopped and a millwright was brought in from Kentucky to inspect it. The problem was found to be some rotten wood in the sails of the mill.

Millwright Benjamin Hassett has been working to replace the windmill hub and sails. Last week, he placed a new wooden and iron hub inside the cap of the mill. He then returned to his shop in Kentucky to work on the sails, or arms of the windmill. He plans to return later in May to put those in place.

It is not yet known when the Danish Windmill will be spinning, but Elk Horn leaders hope the sails will be mounted for the annual Danish Tivoli Fest, which begins on May 25th.

“Right now he’s coming back the week before Memorial Day, which is a big festival for us, so we’re hoping to at least get the sails up,” said Riggs. “He spent four days just working with the wind shaft, the friction drive pulley, and the brake wheel to get that in place.”

Over $200,000 has been raised to repair the structure. While it is torn up, the Windmill Museum is also working on its roof.

"It it looks like a lighthouse now, we want it to look like a windmill," said Riggs.

If you would like to check out the Elk Horn Danish Windmill, check their Facebook page here.