Around here they are used to put a good progressive load on steam engines at shows, that way you get a feel for the noise & power without the danger of trying to drive an old steamer in a crowded area!
A large fan could be used for many things. My uncle had one of about that size blowing into an aframe covered with hardware cloth and running the length of his barn. Chopped hay which was not quite dry was then blown over the top and dried. You could hear that thing two miles away. Electric powered. Vern
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