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The Giant Drunk of Boone, North Carolina - A Historical Examination of the Mod-1 Wind Turbine



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1 The Giant Drunk of Boone North Carolina A Historical Examination of the Mod 1 Wind Turbine By Natasha Thompson HIST 452 Dr Tracey Rizzo 21 November 2003 2 In 1979 a columnist for the Charlotte Observer alleged that a giant drunk plagued the town of Boone North Carolina attempting to flag down rides from vehicles on the highway 1 The writer referred not to a literal inebriated hitchhiker but instead to the world s largest wind turbine at that time the product of a government wind energy project cosponsored by NASA and the Department of Energy known as the Mod 1 wind turbine Reactions to the turbine varied ranging from positive to negative to mocking to apathetic Lauded for its role in the research of wind energy as a renewable method of generating electricity it also faced sharp criticism due to malfunctions and inefficiency By the time of its dismantling in 1983 stories surfaced in newspapers that described the turbine as a failure and a waste of tax dollars Such an assessment however completely ignores the experimental nature and value of the Mod 1 Despite the problems that plagued the project along with the turbine s inability to consistently produce significant quantities of electricity the Mod 1 project did not deserve its reputation as a complete failure The machine provided scientists with important information on the feasibility of using wind turbines to generate electricity Few if any scholarly sources exist that deal exclusively with the Mod 1 wind turbine or NASA s Mod project However some scholarly sources relating to alternative energy development or environmental movements in the twentieth century provide limited information This information may mention the Mod 1 specifically or just movements toward wind energy at the time of the Mod 1 s development Environmental historian Ted Steinberg s book Down to Earth Nature s Role in American History provides useful information concerning the environmental movement 1 Pat Jobe The Gimmicks my Friend are Blowing



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