I know you have heard stories about who settled the West but most of those stories are not true.
I grew up in West Texas not just barely west Texas but way out West Texas where water was scarce. There are no rivers and the only time the gulches were full was when a cloudburst happened in the mountains and then all the "washes" or gulches became rushing muddy messes and then disappeared just as quickly. I know my friends and family will remind me of the Pecos River but most of my remembrance, it was a small meandering muddy stream,not a real river.
Anyway, this country is know for it's large Ranches, not counted in acres but in "Sections" ( 1 section=640 acres) , but of course it almost took a section to feed even one cow calf pair. (old joke). The grass is tough but with a few rains early in the season, grows large and makes nutritious feed for cattle. The only thing that was missing was water for the cattle in this vast land. There are a few springs but those are few and far between. But along came the windmill, designed with a tail to keep the blades faced into the wind and to pump life giving water in this land. And they dotted the land bringing life to West Texas.
And that's how West Texas was really settled, by these windmills!!
These windmills are still used all over most of Texas still today. There is nothing more pleasing to me than the sound of a windmill pumping up that cold water.
These energy efficient designs have lasted for more than 100 years and really haven't changed much, still reliable and most any real cowboy worth his salt can repair them on the spot.
Some of my favorite sites as we drive to town are the windmills. I'll never get tired of seeing them and appreciating their history and value.