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While driving to Coulee Dam, the two RV Gypsies
were surprised to see an amazing Windmill Garden
July 14, 2013

These windmills once surrounded Emil Albert and Stella Veva Gehrke's home. They have been featured in both Columbia Broadcasting and ABC Television films and in a December 1975 National Geographic Magazine.  Emil began his occupation of making windmills from scrap in 1965. Emil and Stella traveled 62,000 miles picking up thrown-away materials to create over 500 windmills, whirligigs, and merry-go-rounds. The two RV Gypsies were amazed by these windmills.

Emil Gehrke's windmills
Emil Gehrke's windmills
Emil Gehrke's windmills
Emil Gehrke's windmills

The windmills were assembled in the basement of the Gehrke home. The windmill paddles were made from coffee pots, cookie tins, plastic bowls, fan blades, sandbox shovels, and parts of old farm machinery.  Most of the turning hubs were made from bicycle wheels. Old metal pieces, scrap iron, nuts and bolts hold the pieces together.

Emil Gehrke's windmills
Emil Gehrke's windmills
Emil Gehrke's merry-go-round
Emil Gehrke's gizmos

All of the windmills and merry-go-rounds turn, though some with heavier wheels required more wind than others. Old washer tubs made attractive flower planters.

Emil Gehrke's windmills
Emil Gehrke's windmills
Emil Gehrke's windmills
Emil Gehrke's windmills

Stella's hobby was collecting buttons, resulting in more than 9,000 buttons, none alike. All were sewn on heavy cardboard with some beautifully displayed as clever flower plaques or in a "horn of plenty" arrangement.

Emil Gehrke's windmills
Emil Gehrke's windmills
Emil Gehrke's windmills
a little man

Emil was born on February 29, 1884 and died on July 6, 1979. Stella was born on March 22, 1902 and died on May 29, 1980.

Emil Gehrke's windmills
Emil Gehrke's windmills
a flower sticking through the Windmill Garden's fence

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