Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version



Published in GREAT PLAINS QUARTERLY 25:4 (Fall 2005). Copyright © 2005 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln.


In the 1850s a Connecticut mechanic named Daniel Halladay invented a windmill that could pump water from the ground without constant human attention. As the breeze changed direction, the Halladay Standard Windmill turned to face the wind and automatically regulated its speed of operation. His invention and the refined mills that followed were literally the wheels to Euro-American settlement on the Great Plains. By pumping groundwater, they allowed people to live in areas without running streams and springs.