There is a mood of celebration at the Kregel Windmill Museum as it gets ready to close out its fifth year of being in business. The unique Nebraska City site, which celebrates a windmill factory dating back to the early 20th century, recently scored a major honor as the Nebraskaland Foundation presented the museum with the Rising Star Award.
The Kregel Windmill Factory Museum joins two other Nebraska City museums, the Missouri River Basin Lewis and Clark Center (2004) and the Nebraska City Museum of Firefighting (2008) as Rising Star recipients.
David Flatt, executive director of the Kregel Windmill Museum, said the Rising Star Award is one that the Nebraskaland Foundation hands out to recognize an up and coming museum.
That definitely describes the Kregel Windmill Factory Museum, which began operations back in 2013.
George F. Kregel began the windmill factory at is current location back in 1902 and it continued in operation for 88 years. George’s son, Arthur, closed the factory in 1991.
From that time until its reorganization as a museum, the site remained untouched. It was said that, in many respects, the factory gave the feeling that the workers there went to a lunch break and never returned.
In that way, Flatt said, the Kregel Museum acts as a time capsule.
Flatt said the efforts to open the Kregel site as a museum began years prior to the opening date.
The only adjustments at the site were to allow space for a walking path through the factory for museum tours and the installation of kiosks that literally are programed to shed light on aspects of the factory while detailing their functions.
The museum is still operational and, Flatt said, the machines are sent into motion once or twice per year. Running the machines helps to assure that they will continue to be operational into the future.
Whether the factory is running or not, a tour of the factory gives guests a clear idea of how such an operation worked at the start of the industrial revolution.
School groups, particularly third, fourth and fifth graders, are interested in seeing the factory because it represents living history as they study the industrial revolution period.
And having such an experience is a very rare treat. The line shaft at the factory is one of 13 located in its original position in the United States.
School groups definitely enjoy it, but they’re not the only folks that come through the doors at Kregel.
Flatt said the factory hosts community groups, retirement groups and special clubs and groups that have a specific historic interest. They also host individual visitors from Nebraska and beyond. Just recently, the museum had a couple visit from Sweeden. In this year alone, 30 people have visited from India.
The Kregel Windmill Factory Museum received its Rising Star Award back in November of this year.
In attendance at the award presentation event were a number of folks from the Nebraskaland Foundation: John McClure, the vice president of the organization, along with Roger Lempke, Tammy Peter, Doug Gibson, the secretary of the organization and Randy Boldt, the treasurer of the organization.
Kregel Windmill Factory board members were Ann Bruntz, president; Jan Madsen, president elect; Roger Wehrbein, secretary, and Duane Smith. Dean Shissler from the Nebraska City Museum Association was in attendance. There was a total of 20 guests at the event.