Wind Power Fiction from the 1911 New York Times

The April 30, 1911 edition of The New York Times featured a wonderful piece on the creation of J.G. Childs’ “wind turbine electrical plant,” which tells a delightful fairy tale about what wind power would do for the rural farm: “Here are some of its possibilities on a farm,” we read:

It pumps all the water used upon the place and feeds an artificial stream and lake. The owner is relied of that chief dread that besets the country resident. He goes to bed with the comfortable assurance that should fire break out his hydrants will furnish ample streams of water driven by electrical force.

All the buildings are lighted by electricity, the plant running 100 or more 16-candle-power lamps if necessary. All parts of the house are connected by telephone, and communication with the stables, the boathouse, or the garage is readily secured through the same medium.

In the winter the residence and outbuildings are heated by electricity, and in the summer cooled by electric fans. One needs to have had experience of an electric cooking range to appreciate all the benefits. It is the simplest and least troublesome arrangement imaginable. All that is necessary is to move a switch and the current does the rest. The food is not only cooked more precisely but also more quickly than by any other process…

It is possible also to arrange so the carpets are cleaned by the vacuum process and the furniture dusted by suction. The housekeeper uses power from the same source to run her sewing machine and in the nursery it is employed to operate the youngsters’ mechanical toys…

The owner of the place uses an electric motor car because it is free from noise, dirt, and odor but more than everything else, he gets an unlimited quantity of electricity free and without trouble. His machine is always ready for immediate use and no appreciable time or trouble is expended in keeping it in that condition. When it comes in from a trip it is run into the garage, and recharged by the wind-plant, either directly from the generator or from the storage battery.

Life in the country will be made immeasurably more attractive by the wind turbine.

Where did this vision come from? It’s unsourced, as if the writer’s imagination saw a future utopia and reported on it. Unfortunately, nothing like this has really ever come to pass, although I dare say it seems a lot like the corporate plan for the Boulder Smart Grid City.  Only 97 years late.

Image: An electric car (left) next to a gasoline powered car (right) in Denver. Sometime between 1910 and 1920. Caption at the Library of Congress: An unidentified woman rides in an electric automobile, Julia Rhoads and Hazel Ladora Gates ride in a gas powered automobile, Denver, Colorado. The women wear fur stoles over their outfits and elaborate hats.


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