Wednesday, September 12, 2012
In 1958, it was reported that the Kenmare Association of Commerce had overwhelmingly voted to begin restoring a 50-year-old grain-grinding windmill located 11 miles north of Kenmare. The committee approved purchase of the mill, and authorized appointment of a committee to work with the State Historical Society of North Dakota under the direction of Russell Reid in relocating and restoring the mill and in gathering background historical material. Estimates for moving and restoring the mill ran around 3000 to 4000 dollars.
On this date, the Minot Daily News reported that “Wheels have been set in motion here to add yet another sightseeing stop to the growing list of tourist attractions being developed throughout the state. The ‘wheels’ in this case can be considered in a literal sense. They are the moving parts of an old grain-grinding mill—with a pioneer history dating back more than half a century….”
The mill was one of a few “Holland-type” mills still in existence in the US. It had been built and owned by a Danish immigrant, Christian Jensen, who had homesteaded in the area around 1898. Jensen built the mill around 1902 without any blueprints or plans, using native timber whenever he could. The mill was a little more than 20 feet wide at the base and stood 20 feet tall to the very top. He made the gears by hand, hewn in maple, and the grinding stones, which weighed up to 1800 pounds each, were driven by canvas sails attached to the vanes. Old-timers in Ward County recalled that the mill was able to turn out 200 sacks of flour a day, and they said that in times of demand the mill operated around the clock.
Today, the windmill sits in the middle of the business district in the downtown park square in Kenmare. It is tall, red and white, free for visitors to examine and enjoy. While it is not a historic site maintained by the State Historical Society of North Dakota, and it is not on the National Register of Historic Places, the windmill is still a reminder of the history of the people who came, who settled, and who lived and worked on the sweeping prairies of North Dakota.
Dakota Datebook written by Sarah Walker
The Minot Daily News, September 10, 1958
The Minot Daily News, September 12, 1958
Sign by the mill