Gehrke Windmill Garden - North Dam Park - Electric City, WA
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member T0SHEA
N 47° 56.216 W 119° 00.938
11T E 349462 N 5311256
Quick Description: Many of us are gardeners, but few of us can grow windmills as well as they grow in this garden.
Location: Washington, United States
Date Posted: 1/23/2019 5:07:55 PM
Waymark Code: WMZYHJ
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Outspoken1
Views: 1

Long Description:
In North Dam Park, Along Coulee Boulevard (AKA Highway 155), between Electric City and Grand Coulee Dam, is a garden in which grows over 120 windmills, all made by one man from materials gathered on many thousands of miles of road trips. The man was Emil Gehrke, a man with a talent for repurposing what others had discarded as trash, turning it into decorative and interesting windmills. Over the years he has made something like 700 windmills, giving the majority of them to family and friends. Some have even found their way to Seattle, where they are on display at the Seattle at City Light Substation.

The windmills in this garden were collected by the town of Grand Coulee and put on display in this Windmill Garden. In 2016 Gehrke Windmill Garden at North Dam Park was listed on the Washington Heritage Register of Historic Places.

Emil Albert and Stella Veva Gehrke had lived in the Grand Coulee area since 1958. In 1965 Emil began his unusual occupation of making windmills from scrap metal. The couple traveled some 62,000 miles picking up thrown-away materials to create over 500 windmills, whirligigs, and merry-go-rounds in their yard. Emil died in 1979 and Stella followed in 1980. Some 120 of their many windmills were acquired by the town of Grand Coulee and are displayed at North Dam Park as a memorial to the Gehrkes.
From the Washington State Genealogical Society
Visit the Gehrke Windmill Garden (aka Garden of the Wind)
Birdie Hensley | July 14, 2010
"Along Hwy. 155 a mile southwest of [Grand Coulee) local resident Emil Gehrke once made numerous decorative windmills from scrap. As he is now deceased, his collection sits in a fenced enclosure in a roadside park near Grand Coulee." This is how one article on the Internet describes the small area at North Dam holding the Gehrke Windmills.

This Garden of the Wind reflects the lives of Emil and Veva Gehrke as they traveled some 62,000 miles picking up items to create the spinning windmills that are indeed unique. "I wanted to make something pretty for the young people to see," stated Mr. Gehrke in one of his many interviews. "We throw away too much, I like to show that practically any object can be reused."

That was over 30 years ago and we are still throwing away too much. More than 500 windmills, whirligigs and merry-go-rounds were built by him. Several were given to family and friends as gifts. Some are on display in Seattle at City Light Substation on Fremont. More than 120 are on display at North Dam. Take the time to stop on your way to the lake or south, and reflect on the past. Gehrke's windmill paddles are made from everything imaginable such as old electric coffee pots, irons, telephones, bed pans, headlights, fan blades from cars and house fans, all types of kitchenware, from cups, forks and knives.

As one walks around the fence you cannot help but say to yourself, "I remember when we had one of those." All types of auto parts, from hubcaps, to radiator fans, to electric drills to work on your auto. Several sizes of funnels make up the turning hubs. Most of the hubs are made from a bike wheel with and without the spokes. A large table is made from a saw blade that once might have ripped trees into boards to build someone's homestead. Have your kids list how many things they recognize from the past. Old wash tubs and washing machines are filled with flowers to make the area more attractive.

Mr. and Mrs. Gehrke came to the Grand Coulee area in 1958. A one-page story of the windmills can be read at the newly painted Windmill Site at North Dam. Drop by and see what the volunteers have done in a few short days.
From the Grand Coulee Star

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Price of Admission: 0.00 (listed in local currency)

Roadside Attractions Website: [Web Link]

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