During most of the 19th century, the U.S. Patent Office required inventors seeking patent protection to submit both a written application and a three-dimensional model. This wood and metal patent model of a windmill succeeded in gaining its inventor, H. M. Wood, Patent Number 222,340, which was issued on December 2, 1879. As farms spread into the American heartland, windmills proved an extremely important technology, allowing settlers to use the renewable power of wind to pump groundwater for agricultural and household use. Efficiency and reliability were key attributes for rural windmills, and professional and lay inventors experimented with hundreds of design variations throughout the years.
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