I saw this windmill on two separate occasions: once on a drive to Cliff House and once during an extremely windy day from atop the Sutro Parapet; and, I wondered why it wasn’t moving. It had what it needed: plenty of wind… but as gust after gust moved dunes and pushed me back and forth, this metal beast sat unmoving amidst trees as if frozen in time.

Both times it looked oddly out of place… like a giant misfit plopped into Golden Gate Park. I’d later find out that the park wouldn’t exist if not for this hulking beast and its compadre: Murphy’s Windmill.

Seems in the late-1800s the city had the grand idea of transforming the barren sandy dunes of the West into a lush green parkland. But it was economically not feasible. To cart fresh water out to the site cost an eye popping $1050 per month. Instead, the city decided to build a windmill to draw underground water up to the gardens and in 1903 the beast began to turn. Murphy’s Windmill arrived in 1908.

It has a steampunk feel to it (though technically it’s wind powered and not steam powered)… and Steampunk makes me giddy… so when I saw the windmill for the second time, I headed over in hopes of finding an adventure. I didn’t find one… just tulips, blue sky, and a mechanical beast.

The gallery contains photos of both the Dutch and Murphy’s windmills.