Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Wednesday search challenge (4/10/13): When did the windmills arrive?

While driving back from a visit to Merced (on the same visit that launched the challenge about the obelisk), I happened to drive past another sight that grabbed my attention.  (Yes, indeed, as I drive I always have a notepad to scribble down questions like this.) 

Just as I drove westward past San Luis Reservoir, (lat/long: 37.0564, -121.1294) I spotted a big row of windmills on a ridge to the south, apparently just to the southwest of the Reservoir.

I don’t recall seeing those windmills there before.  Which leads me to today’s search challenge:

When were those windmills put in place?  Who owns them? 

And… since I enjoy California history (see the following fragment of a diseño that is of a rancho nearby).

As you know, much of California was parceled out into large ranchos via land grants.  Originally these grants were made by Spain, and then later by Mexico after independence.  

What was the name of the rancho that would have contained the windmills? 

Let us know HOW you found the answers, and about how LONG it took you to find them!

Search on.


  1. I actually found what I believe is the answer to the second question while looking for the answer to the first question.

    I started by doing a long/lat search in Google Maps. Those coordinates brought me into the middle of the reservoir. A quick scan around for identifying features left me with nothing. I used the 'photos' option on maps to see user submitted photos on the area. One of them was this []. The title was Pacheco State Park - Wind Turbines. Okay, that seems like a good lead.

    I did a search for those terms and came to a Wiki page that states:

    The park was created from Rancho San Luis Gonzaga in 1997, five years after it was bequeathed to the state by Paula M. Fatjo. Fatjo was the great-great granddaughter of Mexican ranchero Francisco Pacheco, for whom both the park and the nearby Pacheco Pass are named. The rancho had been in the Pacheco family since 1843.

    So that appears to be the answer to the second question. Of course I need to verify that. A link within the Wiki to the State Park website ( provides the verification.

    Now back to the initial question:

    I tried a few different searches with every combination of wind turbines, Pacheco Pass, Pacheco State Park, history and so on. [pacheco pass AND turbine*] led me to this site: which tells me that the developer, and I'm assuming owner, of the windmills is International Turbine Research.

    Doing a search for that led me to their homepage ( Under origins, it states that:

    ITR is a U.S. corporation established in 1986 to operate, service and maintain a series of wind energy projects situated in Pacheco Pass, California, and to maintain electronics and communication systems of wind energy projects situated in Palm Springs, California.

    Over the years, ITR has maintained a constant presence in the windfarm in Pacheco Pass, now a State Park, where some 200 wind turbines of Danish origin, but of varying age, make, and size are presently in operation.

    So I'm thinking 1986 is the year they were put up.

    Overall, this took me about 15-20 minutes. And as always, I'm not 100% sure this is the answer but I feel fairly confident it is.

    1. I read your search step by step to discover we approached this search in very similar ways. I find it interesting to see the similar and how others approach the search. It took me a bit longer but I think we both got there. I forgot to include in my summary the search I did. I am finding books somewhat frustrating due to limited/snippet views so I don't spend too much time if I can help it. Also not being in US limits us a bit more and while I can get around it sometimes by using a proxy server it isn't always successful. Great to share with you.

  2. Anne and Deb from Morristown-
    The windmills were put in place in 1979 by US Windpower. From a Mother Earth News article-
    confirmed this with another news article,2308475
    Took us a while to do this search. Tried different searches on google "pacheco pass" wind turbines OR farms. Found lots of info on the turbines but couldn't find WHO owned them. Many articles mentioned a private utility company. Then did a search in google books for wind turbines pacheco pass and found the book Wind Energy comes of age. Did a search in the book for pacheco pass and on pg. 34 was the name of 3 companies that owned wind turbines in CA. Tried the name of the first one US Windpower and did search in google with that name and pacheco pass and the articles above resulted. This took about 30 mins. If we had gone to google books first or earlier would have been much faster.

    Second part of the question was much easier. Found answer in one of our earliest searches on
    . Got that info from putting in the lat and long in google maps. One of the results was a link to the CA parks and recreation page on Pacheco State Park.
    Gave us the following info:
    "The land around Pacheco Pass was originally part of a 48,000-acre Mexican land grant deeded to Juan Perez Pacheco in 1843. The Pacheco family soon built a tiny adobe fortress near a waterhole at the base of Pacheco Pass.

    Rancho San Luis Gonzaga stayed in the family for a century. Paula Fatjo, a San Francisco debutante and fifth-generation descendant of the Pachecos, moved into the adobe fort-turned ranch headquarters in 1948. She desired to live the life of a rustic ranchero in emulation of her 19th-century relatives."

  3. Good day, Dr. Russell, fellow SearchResearchers

    [san luis reservoir windmills]
    Wind turbines and Pacheco State park To find 200 windmills

    [pacheco state park windmills history]

    Found: To find: Pacheco State Park is the last remaining portion of the Mexican land grant, El

    Rancho San Luis Gonzaga

    [wind farm pacheco pass ~origin]
    "Pacheco Pass" site to find 1986.

    ["international turbine research" AROUND(3) PACHECO PASS]
    The american wind Energy Association

    Search Pacheco Pass and found online mid- 1980´s

    [Pacheco Pass] to find:
    In site searched: "Pacheco Pass" and found

    [pacheco pass wind farm 1980..1990]
    PDF file - California Energy Commission - State of California
    "The Pacheco Pass Wind Resource Area was developed in 1987-88. When
    constructed, it was private land but the entire ranch was donated to the state and is
    now located in Pacheco State Park."


    When were those windmills put in place? Who owns them?
    A. 1986 project began, developed in 1987-88. Pacheco State park. Also found "Wind energy in America: a history ( That ITR owns it.

    In says that in 1989 ITR had 167 turbines

    What was the name of the rancho that would have contained the windmills?
    A. El Rancho San Luis Gonzaga

    1. Hi Ramon,
      I noticed in your search that you found " The american wind Energy Association" and then went to---

      I can't open Readbag documents site on my tablet. Did you find a link from AWEA to readbag if not can you tell me how Readbags works?

      I also found it interesting that the Canadian links showed up for you as well. We don't have a lot of wind farms up here that I know of. I know about 200 kms southwest of my location there are windfarms but I didn't expect to see this type of renewable energy come up as primary results for a Google search. I thought they came up because I was using but you aren't in Canada as I recall. I wonder why? I live in the heart of the oil and gas industry so this was a surprise.

  4. Second question I did first: What was the name of the rancho that would have contained the windmills?
    Dragged co-ordinates into SEARCH found the locale and had a look around. Then |early santa clara land grants| into SEARCH. This found clara/landgrants in which I found that the area was granted by Mexico in 1843 to Pacheco. The name of the rancho was Rancho San Luis Gonzaga. I note the Pacheco State Park now covers most of the area.

    First question: When were those windmills put in place? Who owns them? Well, now I know the official location because I can see the Danish wind turbines in EARTH and MAPS. Now its an easy SEARCH for |wind turbines pacheco state park| and I find International Turbine Research was established in 1986 to install operate and maintain wind turbines in Pacheco. But the revenue goes to the park maintenance so I assume the units are ultimately owned by the state of CA.

    A really interesting Challenge which spread out to over a half hour by exploring all sorts of irrelevant but curious things.


  5. Have to update our answer. The wind turbines are now owned by International Turbine Research since 1992. Did a new search in google books for pancheco pass wind turbines. Answer was in Wind Energy in America: a history
    US Windpower built them in 1979.

  6. Opened location in maps, found the name of the park containing ridges southwest of san luis reservoir. Searched for "Pacheco State Park Wind Generation" Found the 2004 Pacheco State Park General Plan and EIR, searched in pdf for wind, found a description of the wind farm, operated by International Turbine Research, located on land owned by Paula Fatjo and leased for wind generation in 1984. According to the EIR Paula Fatjo was the remaining owner of Rancho San Luis Gonzaga and bequeathed the remaining acres of Rancho San Luis Gonzaga to the State of California in 1992.

    An additional search of "International Turbine Research pacheco"

    Led me to the following sites: - contains mapped wind energy data with location, capacity, purchasers but no information on installation dates. - data similar to above, no installation date - gives the establishment date of ITR

    and then an interesting document which listed existing wind projects in the US with area, date online, etc. It listed the ITR project as coming online for power production in the mid-1980s.
    a little more digging found dthat lecet is an online clearinghouse for construction labor unions.

    This took me a little more than a half an hour.

    Interestingly, according to Pacheco State Park General Plan and EIR, the ITR Facility was not the first "wind-powered" installation at Pacheco State Park/Rancho San Luis Gonzaga; during the Rancho San Luis Gonzaga's time as a working ranch a windmill was located on the property and the ruins of that windmill, built in the mid-to-late 19th century, were identified as a historic/cultural resource.

  7. View known location
    Use Google Earth 37.0564, -121.1294
    Search Sources - Information on the area southwest of San Luis Reservoir

    Query [ san luis reservoir intext:windfarm]
    Result... (
    Located southwest of SLR. Wiki page mentions "small wind farm"

    Query [wind farms]
    Result ...
    Lots of wind farms but none listed in this area.

    Query[wind energy california "san luis reservoir"]
    Indicates the wind farm in the area is for research. Not solid resource.

    Next step--look for a database for wind 'power' 'energy' or 'farm'.

    Query [ wind power database]
    Result ...
    Database/ Zone/
    Long list so- Use Find 'Control F' to locate 'Research'
    International Turbine Research
    Location ... Latitude: 37° 2' 23.9"Longitude: -121° 10' 48" confirmation.

    ANSWER Ownership - International Turbine Research √
    Origins Page ...
    ANSWER Startup 1986 √

    Question #2
    Query [pacheco pass rancho]
    ANSWER Rancho San Luis Gonzaga√
    From Wikipedia, Coordinates 37.110°N 121.170°W confirmed.

    Total planning, seaching and presenting 75 minutes