Steve Renzi

Steven Renzi, Speaker for Arizona Humanities, writer, and photographer

Wednesday, September 22, 2021,

2:30-3:30 pm,

an ASA Zoom Webinar*

In movies and stories, the conquest of the West is associated primarily with the technology of the six-shooter and the repeating rifle.  But when it comes to the actual settlement of the West, three technologies made the civilized West possible.  Two of them are simple and might easily be overlooked: the windmill and barbed wire. The third is more complex—not the covered wagon, which came first, but the railroad, which made large scale settlement possible.



Windmills brought groundwater to the surface, barbed wire sectioned the vast landscape into parcels, and railroads moved men, women, families and materials from back East. Our speaker, Steve Renzi, will tell us that “in the old West, there were over eight million windmills.  A man caught cutting a barbed wire fence was often found hanging from a rope, and railroads gave us time zones and the Blue Plate Special. Brave men and women won the West, but the new technology made it possible.”

Steve Renzi, an Arizona resident with a degree in history from the University of Arizona, believes every generation must learn about who and what came before them so that possible lessons from the past are not lost. A writer and photographer with a teacher’s certificate in secondary education, Renzi is always searching for new ways of exploring our Arizona history and loves to write and speak about uncommon, underappreciated stories that have influenced American culture and the development of the West. As a free-lance writer he has published over 200 magazine and newspaper articles and has been a writing and photography teacher, as well as a basketball coach.

Compiled by Rosemary Brown, Academy Village Volunteer

*For access to the Zoom Webinar please write



Sept 22: “Barbed Wire, Windmills, and Railroads – The Technology that Really Won the West”