Eclipse Windmill

ECLIPSE WINDMILL at the Saline Railroad Depot Museum
By Randy Karr, Special Writer for the Saline Reporter

For the benefit and enjoyment of the people "that's why the Saline Depot has been designated as a historic district" the first such historic district in Saline.

Visitors to the Saline Depot Museum can enjoy an 1880s train station office, freight house, caboose, and livery barn. And, if the Saline Area Historical Society can raise $3000, there'll be an Eclipse windmill alongside the tracks, adding to the historic ambiance.

"We want to recreate an 1880s atmosphere at the depot," said Wayne Clements, president. "In 1882, there was an 18 ft. windmill on a 61 ft. tower along the tracks. It was a railroad mill, a type that was large enough to pump the water needed by locomotives that steamed their way through Saline."

Mark Nice, a collector, restorer, and seller of windmills from South Lyon, has an eight-foot restored Eclipse windmill for sale. It's an original built by the Fairbanks Morse Company in Beloit, Wisconsin. There is also a Fairbanks Morse freight scale in the depot.

The Eclipse was once the most popular of all wooden windmills. It was painted an unusual shade of red and green, colors described by windmill writer, T. Lindsay Baker, as "cow patty green with buzzard blood red tips." Mark, however, likes to think of his Eclipse replica as "pea green." On the other hand, Wayne is not concerned with color " he just wants the windmill "to help tell the story at the Saline Depot."

The windmill will be the first of several new visitors' attractions planned for the Depot Museum.

"We're looking for a railroad water tank to go with the windmill and an 1880s outhouse," said Wayne.

Randy Karr, Sept. 26, 2002

Webmaster's Note: This article was written and published prior to the installation of the windmill at the Depot Museum complex, 402 N. Ann Arbor Street, 4 blks. north of Downtown Saline. Although slightly smaller than the original 18 ft. windmill at the depot, this 10 ft. Eclipse windmill was indeed purchased by the Saline Railroad Depot Museum. In 2003, it was mounted on a tower created and built by Eagle Scout Bryan Finfrock and Scout Troop 416.

The historical society owns two other windmills, an 1880s Maud-S that was once located at the Tefft farm on Textile Road and the locally made Saline Standard Windmill which Art Wiedmayer, a local farmer, found under some hay in his barn. Both windmills were exhibited in the livery barn for many years, but are now located inside an exhibit barn at the Rentschler Farm Museum, one mile east of Downtown Saline. .

The article was transcribed, edited and is published here with permission of the author. Saline Area Historical Society reminds readers that all copyrighted material is only for personal use; it may not be copied, printed, or published in whole or in part without express permission of the author.