Although the U. S. Wind Engine and Pump Company is the oldest manufacturer of wind engines, the Challenge Windmill Company was the first to open such a factory in Batavia. These large facilities were situated on the Fox River, ironically using water power to turn the machines that made windmills!
The factories all had different departments and warehouses. The wood shop is where vanes, sails, and towers were carved directly from stock lumber using different templates for the available models. The machine shop was no doubt the busiest; there the metal gearboxes, rods, pumps, fasteners, and spare parts were manufactured from raw stock materials. When metal windmills became popular, the machine shops were expanded to include the manufacture of sails, vanes, and towers.
The Appleton factory building still stands on Batavia’s Riverwalk and now serves as Batavia’s government center. Proudly displayed on the grounds are wind engine models from Challenge, U.S. Wind Engine, Appleton, and Batavia Mill.
The following list includes major windmill manufacturers. Hundreds more companies were involved in the process of selling and distributing windmills; however, there are far too many to catalogue. Note that some of the brand-name windmills began as independent companies but were later purchased or merged with other manufacturing companies.