Publication: Niagara Mohawk News
Syracuse, NY, United States
NM "windmills" still on line.
Windmills used to produce power aren't really news these days. Many are producing electrical energy. But it's a good bet that a NM predecessor company beat everyone to the punch in utilizing mail-order windmills in a rather unique way.
Mail order? That's right. Some 80 years ago the "Aeromotor Company" was doing a land-office business selling its windmills to farmers. Commonplace in those days, the lattice-work structures, complete with pipe, pump and windmill fan, were used to ease the back-breaking labor of pumping water for livestock before electricity became available in rural areas. Some are still in use for that purpose, mostly in the Amish country of Pennsylvania.
But back in 1906-07 the enterprising folks at Niagara, Lockport and Ontario Power Company, a western forerunner of NM, saw another use for the windmills.
They were not content with the strength of the wooden poles generally used back then for higher voltage transmission lines. Why not replace a windmill fan with a cross-arm and use the husky structures for electric transmission towers? That they did, each structure arriving from Aeromotor complete with fan and pump! The latter components were stored away for years. (Or at least until Aeromotor was persuaded not to send the pumping equipment along with the towers.)
The first batch of towers was used by NL&O to build the original Niagara Falls-Syracuse transmission line, about 1906-07.
Says Gardner Dales, retired NM engineer and active company historian, "After that, the windmill power-towers became very popular all over New York State, at least. It was a cheaper way to do it than to fabricate your own in those days."
What's more, adds Gard, many of the towers are still in use around the NM System. Property Records still has them on the books. They're listed as "transmission aeromotors."