New report shares history of unique Scandia water infrastructure

Researcher will present findings about how early settlers provided water for growing community.




2 minute read

Wind and Water: Reconstructing the History of Scandia’s Tower Barn
Tuesday, April 23, 7 – 8:30 p.m.
The Scandia Creamery
21279 Olinda Trail North Scandia, MN 55073
Details and registration

Frank Lake’s mercantile was a center of community life in Scandia in the 1890s and early 1900s. Located just across the road from Elim Lutheran church, it offered the latest fashions as well as shiny new farm equipment.

When Lake built a barn just behind his store, it was not simply to stable his delivery horses. He added a windmill to pull water from deep underground and an elevated water tankhouse. Wooden pipes supplied his business, home and neighbors with fresh water. A horse-drawn wagon delivered water to outlying homes and farms. Scandia businesses flourished.

Lake also sold the famous Aermotor windmill, which had taken the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair by storm, soon dotting the Midwest landscape and transforming life on small family farms. While crucial, the age of the windmill was relatively brief. By the 1930s, rural electrification offered a modern alternative for pumping water. But windmills are more than just a symbol of a bygone era. They represent a spark of human ingenuity that employed wind and water to make an entire way of life possible. Such is the deeper story of Scandia’s Water Tower Barn, the last structure of its kind in Minnesota.

Do you have an interest in historic engineering? Curious about Scandia history? Step back in time with Architectural Historian Charlene Roise to discover reasons behind the unique design of Scandia’s Water Tower Barn that once stood behind the Scandia Mercantile. Using a 1905 Aermotor manual as a guide, Charlene studied the windmill remnants that remained in the building and unraveled the mystery behind a double outer wall on the tower, beefy windmill supports, and water tank design.

Artifacts on display will include an Aermotor windmill, an antique wood water tank, and Aermotor literature.

Registration is free but required in order to plan catering. Dessert, coffee, and other beverages will be served. We will announce ahead of the event if additional tickets are available at the door.

Thank you to Federated Co-op and the Country Store/Cenex for sponsoring this event and providing dessert from TST Creative Catering.

Water Tower Barn Scandia research was made possible in part by the people of Minnesota through a grant funded by an appropriation to the Minnesota Historical Society from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. Any views, findings, opinions, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the research publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the State of Minnesota, the Minnesota Historical Society, or the Minnesota Historic Resources Advisory Committee.

The full research report is available below:


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One response to “New report shares history of unique Scandia water infrastructure”

  1. Sue Avatar

    Wow! Thank you for this article! Our family lived 2 miles West of Scandia in the 1980’s, and we had a windmill and cistern for our water. I believe it was the type of windmill described in the article, and still had the blades, but had been updated years earlier with an electric pump to fill the cistern. My kids and I climbed the windmill more than once to take in the view of the countryside. We loved living in Scandia. and often shopped at, what was by then, the Tom Thumb, so the recent photos in the article are very interesting to us, too. I’m so happy to hear that they are saving those buildings and will be reconstructing them.



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New report shares history of unique Scandia water infrastructure