EMDEN -- It may not be his best-known composition, but a little-known speech Abraham Lincoln delivered in 1858 in Bloomington seemed apt to the developers of a wind farm named in his honor and dedicated Tuesday near Emden.
"Of all the forces of nature, the wind contains the largest amount of motive power," Lincoln wrote in the speech later restructured into a poem called "Farming the Wind."
"As yet the wind is an untamed and unharnessed force; and quite possibly one of the greatest discoveries hereafter to be made will be the taming and harnessing of the wind."
More than 150 years later, Lincoln's vision is embodied by the $200 million Rail Splitter Wind Farm, a scattering of 67 wind turbines, each 260 feet tall, across 11,000 acres in Logan and Tazewell counties. On Tuesday, the memory of the 16th president played a role in the wind farm's ribbon-cutting ceremony that drew about 350 people to a field near Emden.
"It's very fitting that we are so close to all of this history of Abraham Lincoln and he was able to see the value of wind energy 150 years ago," said Gabriel Alonso, CEO of the developer, Texas-based Horizon Wind Energy. "Everyone in this area is so proud of what he accomplished and this proves just how great his foresight really was."
The ceremony included speeches from state Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, Logan County Board member Bill Martin, Tazewell County Farm Bureau manager Doug Godke, landowners and other officials.
"This is like crossing the finish line of a big journey or race," said Horizon project manager John Fulton. "We didn't finish it as quickly as we had hoped, but there is a lot to do in completing a project like this.
"But it's a reality now and will serve the neighboring communities well, long into the future."
The wind farm, which began producing energy in June, is expected to produce enough electricity to power approximately 30,000 average Illinois homes each year.
Martin said the addition of a wind farm was a good idea. He said it generates electricity from a free, endless energy source that doesn't pollute or produce harmful waste.
"Yes, there were some who opposed it, but this is something that just makes sense," he said.
Rail Splitter, using a nickname for Lincoln, is the company's 16th wind farm.
Construction created about 200 jobs, developers said. Once it is fully operational, it will create 10 to 15 permanent, full-time jobs and is projected to yield about $234,000 in tax revenue the first year, according to previous Horizon estimates.
"One of the byproducts of this wind farm is the fact that this project brought community leaders together, and they are in agreement on something," Brady said. "The economy in Illinois has been struggling, but this will provide Illinois with a long-term competitive advantage and will lead to business development and job creation, which, in turn, allows families to continue to be here."