A new landmark on Red Belt Road.
Randy Garner always wanted a windmill and now he has one.
On May 19, 65 of Garner’s friends, family and neighbors gathered at his Catoosa County home, Red Belt Red Angus Farm, for a windmill-raising. The 40-foot windmill with an eight-foot sail span lay on its side on the ground, waiting for the big moment, as guests stood under trees talking local politics, farming and general chit-chat.
Among the guests were people Garner and his wife, Vicki, hadn’t seen since retiring from TVA 13 years earlier.
Garner found his windmill on Craig’s List. “I get on Craig’s List every morning to look for things I need or want,” he says. “I found the windmill in Lebanon, Tennessee.”
It took Garner nine months to assemble the 1935 windmill that was manufactured in Chicago then installed in Palmyra, Mo., and eventually found its way to Tennessee. During that time, he contacted a librarian in Palmyra who put him in touch with a historian.
“We didn’t know when the windmill had been made at first,” says Garner. “The historian was able to track it down based on the name of the company printed on one leg of the windmill.”
It turned out that the name of the company had changed three years in a row, which helped the historian pinpoint the windmill’s year of birth to 1935.
“I tried to keep the windmill as close to original as possible,” says Garner. “I consulted with a man in Texas who was able to give me advice on getting it put together and working.”
The functioning windmill, which will pump fresh water from a spring the Garners discovered when digging to put in a pool, to a fresh water pond, still has wood rods. Garner added galvanized attachments to the ends of them. He built the pump that’s installed in the ground and chose not to paint the windmill.
When the big moment came, the guests stopped talking and watched as the windmill inched its way upward, assisted by ropes and tractors. Garner had actually erected it days earlier in a trial run to make sure everything would go smoothly.
As the windmill settled to an upright position, the wind caught its sails, the winged wheel started to turn and the guests erupted in applause. After a short time watching the slow mesmerizing turn of the metal against a cloudy sky, the crowd hiked to the Garner’s front yard where soft drinks, hot dogs and pastries awaited.
“The windmill will be a new landmark around here,” says Garner.
The windmill raising has inspired Garner and his wife to start a tradition: an annual gettogether of friends and family.
Randy Garner found a 1935 windmill on Craig’s List and invited friends, family and neighbors to a windmill raising at his Catoosa County farm.
Standing at 40-feet tall, Randy Garner’s windmill is a new landmark along Red Belt Road.