Battling blazing sun, gritty dust, dizzying heights, and unfriendly rattlesnakes the windmillers of Burdick & Burdick Company in El Paso crossed the Southwest during the Great Depression bringing windmills and water to the parched land. From 1923 to 1942, Burdick photographed his men at work. Those photos, paired with Baker's text, shape Burdick's memories into a fascinating story.
No water ever tasted better than when it came up clear and cool from deep in the ground, its flow pulsing to the steady rhythm of the wind-driven pump. . . . Windmill men such as Tex Burdick and others described in Baker’s narrative deserve much credit for making life possible in semi-desert rural areas of Texas, New Mexico, and other parts of the West. —Elmer Kelton, from the forewordDuring the Great Depression the windmillers of the Burdick & Burdick Company of El Paso, one of the largest windmill distributorships in the United States, crisscrossed the desert Southwest to bring wind power and water to a parched land. Battling blazing sun, dust storms, dizzying heights, and the hazards of cacti and rattlesnakes, they worked seven days a week from sunup to sundown and counted themselves lucky to earn two dollars a day. From 1923 to 1942, company owner B. H. “Tex” Burdick, Sr., photographed his men at work, producing a chronicle of the windmillers’ lives. Fifty of his remarkable images, paired here with text by historian T. Lindsay Baker, preserve the fascinating story of the industry that made western settlement possible.