Postcards as Cultural Icons

This category started many years ago when postcards of modern wind turbines first began appearing in California in the early 1980s. Postcards of wind turbines are now so prevalent, I can’t attempt to document all those I’ve come across. Here are a few from my collection.


Post Card of Wind Turbines in California

Postcards of Wind Turbines in California

(Upper Left) The photograph by Lloyd Herziger, Zond Systems, shows a windsmith servicing a Vestas V15 turbine operated by Zond atop a ridge in the Tehachapi Pass. (Upper Right) The photograph by Ed Linton, Kenetech Windpower, shows Kenetech model 56-100 turbines in operation in the Altamont Pass. (Lower Left) The photograph by Lloyd Herziger, Zond Systems, shows Vestas V15 turbines on Zond Systems’ Victory Garden site. (Lower Right) The photograph by Lloyd Herziger, Zond Systems, illustrates Vestas V15 turbines operating during the winter at Zond Systems’ Victory Garden site in the Tehachapi Mountains.

This postcard was distributed throughout the San Joaquin Valley and could be found in restaurants, hotels, and shopping centers from Tehachapi to San Francisco.

This is another Lloyd Herziger photo, here of early Vestas turbines operating in the snow in the Tehachapi Pass.


This is another of Lloyd Herziger’s classic shots of early Vestas turbines operating int he Tehachapi Pass. Thousands of these post cards have been sold throughout California since the late 1980s.


Howden on Burgar Hill, Orkney

Glasgow heavy machinery manufacturer Howden installed one of its early 300 kW wind turbines on Burgar Hill in the Orkney islands off the north coast of the Scottish mainland. The windy Orkneys has long been used to test wind turbines. The first wind turbine was installed in 1955 by John Brown Ltd on neighboring Costa Hill. In 1987 the Wind Energy Group installed its LS-1 prototype two-blade wind turbine. The 60-meter diameter wind turbine was rated at 3 MW. The WEG turbine was finally brought down in a controlled explosion in 2000. Howden installed its three-blade wind turbine with pitchable blade tips for overspeed control in the early to mid 1980s. Today there are a number of modern commercial wind turbines operating on Burgar Hill.


Whitelee Windfarm

Whitelee Windfarm is the second largest in Europe. It is 15 km (9 miles) from the center of Glasgow and has become an ecotourist destination with hiking, cycling, and horseback riding. An official tourist destination with a visitors center and cafe overlooking Glaslgow and the Clyde Valley.

Postcard of Whitelee Windfarm Scotland

Whitelee is located on moorland southeast of Eaglesham. The site was developed by Scottish Power, now a part of Madrid-based Iberdrola.

Postcard of Whitelee Windfarm Scotland

Nordfriesland, Germany

Postcards of Wind Turbines in Nordfriesland, Germany


This postcard intended for German tourists to Nordfriesland on the northwest coast of Schleswig-Holstein is in the local dialect. The text (my best guess) is “Lousy weather? Nah” by Gesche Nordmann,


Titled Sonnenuntergang im Desmerciereskoog or sun down in the Desmercieres polder by Geshe Nordman,

These postcards were purchased in a bookstore in Husum, Germany. Husum is the “Graue stadt am Meer” and famous for its biennial wind energy exhibition, the largest–and oldest–in the world. Wind turbines are a common sight in the town and in the region.

Jutland Denmark I

Postcard of Lykkegaard Wind Turbine in Fine Art Print

We came across this artwork on a postcard from the Heltborg Museum in 1998 when I was working at the nearby Folkecenter for Renewable Energy in Ydby, Denmark. The post card represents the work of Jens Søndergaard (1895-1957) in a view of the countryside on the Limfjord.


What is significant about the work is the bright colors, the people–reminiscent of Edvard Munch–and the Lykkegaard wind turbine in the far right background and its attendant distribution poles. The Lykkegaard design was directly descended from the work of Poul la Cour, the Danish Edison. These wind turbines brought central station electricity to remote rural outposts in Denmark of the 1920s. That they were depicted in this scene of the Danish people amidst their landscape reveals a sufficiently important role that the artist felt they should be included.

Jutland Denmark II

Postcards of Tændpibe, Jutland Denmark

The wind farm at Tændpibe-Velling Mærsk was among the first in Denmark. Located southeast of Rinkøbing on the west coast of Jutland, the project was owned by a cooperative of those living in the kommune.


The first project used Vestas V17s installed in the mid 1980s. The second project nearby followed shortly thereafter. The project operated for more than two decades before it was sold and repowered with newer, larger turbines. These cards were sketched by Maren Andersen, Torsted.


Both projects were aesthetically pleasing and were well maintained by the cooperative. For many years I used a photo of this project as an example of visual uniformity. Though the turbines were not the same, they all looked alike, giving the project visual uniformity not found at the time in California.


Postcard of Curaçao, Netherlands Antilles

Curaçao sits astride the trade wind belt and was an early pioneer in wind energy. The first experimental variable speed wind turbine was installed on the beach at Tera Kora. Later, a wind farm of some 20 turbines were installed more than two decades ago. The postcard features the major tourist sites on the island, including the wind farm, the first in the Caribbean.


Pincher Creek

Pincher Creek, Alberta, Canada Postcard

This postcard was developed by the local economic development authority to show the broad sweep of wind projects in the area of southern Alberta. Darrieus turbines are no longer extant and the Kenetech KVS 33 turbines will all be removed in 2016. The latter were located on Cowley Ridge just west of Pincher Creek. The Darrieus turbines were installed east of the town at a provincial test site.


Pincher Creek is the center of wind development in Alberta and for many years  was the center of wind energy development in Canada.

Wellington New Zealand

Greeting Card of Wellington Harbour, New Zealand

Wellington, the capitol of New Zealand, is one of the windiest places in the world. While the harbour is protected–the reason Wellington is where it is–the promontories nearby are extremely windy. They are a natural location for wind turbines. However, when the first turbine was proposed in the 1990s for a park overlooking the Wellington suburb of Brooklyn, there was a hue and cry against the project. The turbine was eventually installed and has since become a cherished symbol of Brooklyn and the greater Wellington area. When the utility proposed removing it some years ago there was again a hue and cry–this time to keep the turbine.


The banner of this section, Cultural Icons Featuring Wind Turbines, is of ceramic tiles used in the sidewalks of Brooklyn that commemorate the wind turbine.


Aerogenerateur Type Darrieus

This postcard depicts an experimental Darrieus wind turbine somewhere in France. There are no details on the back of the card except for the company that produced the card.