Dedicated to the history, preservation, and continuing story of windmills in Illinois.
1893 Columbian Exposition
De Vriendschap replica and wind engine display
Columbian Exposition Fairgrounds
Chicago, IL 60649
Baker, T. Lindsay. A Field Guide to American Windmills. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1985
Appelbaum, Stanley. The Chicago World’s Fair of 1893. New York: Dover Publications, 1980.
Charles Francis Himes collection
Dutch Mill Database
The wind engine display at the Columbian Exposition.
Photo from The Chicago World's Fair of 1873
Blooker Cocoa Replica of De Vriendschap
Texts conflict regarding the origins of the Blooker Cocoa Mill, which was erected for the Columbian Exposition at the entrance to the wind engine exhibit. It is confirmed that the windmill was constructed on site by the Blooker Cocoa Company, and the wind-driven mill actually ground cocoa on site that was used to make treats sold at the fair.
Contrary to many sources, this windmill was not relocated from Holland but rather built specifically for the fair. A Chicago Tribune article written at the time of the fair said the mill was originally built in Holland in 1860 and was reconstructed by millwright A. Verdonk and his sons. According to the Dutch Mill Database, the original windmill, called De Vriendschap (The Friendship) was constructed for Blooker Cocoa to replace a horse-driven tobacco mill.
The new windmill ground cocoa for Blooker using wind power for several years. A duplicate of this windmill was constructed for the fair; the original in Amsterdam was converted to steam power around 1895 and then razed in 1937. There are no indications of what happened to the duplicate mill after the fair.
Wind Engine Display
The top fifteen windmill manufacturers competed head-to-head in, arguably, the most famous marketing displays of wind engines. Each company showcased their latest wind engine models, each trying to be the tallest, most powerful, or most colorful to attract the most visitors. The display by Aermotor was the tallest at the fair; it stood a total of 130' high, achieved by mounting a wind engine atop a decomissioned custom mill. Symbolically, it represented the modern windmills' dominance over the old European designs.