Our second day of vacation was spent on Windmill Island…one of our favorite parts!  We loved the Dutch signs, and of course the Dutch costumes, shoes, and everything else!  This sign greeted us as we drove in.



First, we watched a video about the Dutch, how Holland Michigan came to be, and about the windmill. The lettering on this document was amazing!




This windmill is the only working windmill in the United States that was brought over from the Netherlands.  They weren’t running the windmill the day we visited, but they still use it to grind wheat into flour (which you can buy in the shop).




One of the guides played this organ for us…it was so neat!


Here’s a video of the first song she played for us.  She feeds a ‘book’ through it which is what makes it play the different notes.  The Dutch gave us this organ, as the sign mounted on the side says:


“Built in 1928 by the famous organ maker

Carl Frei.

‘De Vier Kolommen’ (‘The Four Columns’ ) was

a well loved and famous organ

often played in the streets of

Breda, Rotterdam and Amsterdam.

The 69 metal key organ

was given to the City of Holland

by the city of Amsterdam

in gratitude for the role of the

United States in liberating

The Netherlands in World War 2″





Lovely flower beds were everywhere…we can only imagine how beautiful it must be with all the tulips in the spring!



A replica of the bridges they had in the Netherlands.  A single person could raise and lower the bridge for the boats below.  In the little Dutch model village they had, the person raising the bridge had a wooden shoe on the end of a line on a pole, to collect the fare 😀



‘DeZwaan’ or ‘The Swan’



When they replaced the blades, they kept one of them outside for visitors to see, and then they put this plate up on the wall.  That hole on the right hand side is a bullet hole from World War Two!  The blade outside was full of them.  During the War, the windmills were often used as lookout towers, so the enemy would shoot at them. 😯



This shoe was used to carry messages up to the miller if he was on the upper floors.  They’d put the message in it and then shake the rope to let him know he had a message 🙂




Looking down the shaft where they hauled wheat (and messages!) up.  Here we are standing about 4 or 5 floors up…


Another World War Two story our guide told us, was of two American soldiers who hid in the very top of the windmill when the enemy was after them.  There are seven levels, the top one being just beams where the gears are…that’s where they hid 😀   Their pursuers shot at them for awhile, but eventually left.  After the war, one of the soldiers moved to Indiana, and when he heard that the DeZwaan was being moved to Michigan, he came up and told the story about how that windmill saved his life.



The millers had a ‘windmill’ language that they used to communicate with the people who lived in the area…right now the blades say that the miller is gone for a short while.  If the blades were in a perfect ‘X’, that would mean the miller would be gone for a week or more.  There was also a position for ‘joy’, if a baby was born, or someone was going to be married, and also a ‘mourning’ position if someone had died.   They also decorated the blades for weddings and births 😀  We saw some of the decorations stored away in the windmill and they were quite large!  The angel used for weddings was as tall as a grown person.  In the pictures of the decorated windmills we saw,  the decorations look so little.


Also, notice the cap of the windmill?  And the wheel?


The miller ‘walks the wheel’ to turn the blades toward the wind.  The whole cap is on metal rollers, and the blades are attached to the cap, so as the wheel turns, so does the top 🙂   If the miller wants the blades to catch the wind better, she climbs them and unfurls the sails that are tied to them.  It takes her about 12-15 minutes to do one blade.  The only ‘ladder’ she uses is the blade itself, and the windmill with the blades is as tall as a 12 story building 😯



We got to go up to the 5th floor.  The sixth floor was pretty tiny, and the seventh was just beams like we said before.


Walking down towards the bottom again…



The millstone.  In olden days, the millstones were cut out of the mountains of Germany and hauled to the windmills.  The one Isaiah is standing on is one of them 🙂  Now the millstones are made from poured concrete.  You can see Bekah in the background on the old blade that is full of bullet holes 😀






After visiting the windmill, we went back to the little ‘village’ and some of the girls (and the boys!) got to ride the carousel 😀  Notice the decorated windmill blades painted on the carousel?!













We spent a little bit of time (and a little bit of money!) in the shop…so many neat things to look at!




Underneath all the klompen hanging on the wall were more klompen for you to try on.  Jessica, Leah couldn’t resist…Isaiah had to be talked into wearing a pair for the camera 😀



Pretty little shoes, aren’t they?!


We probably would have come home with a pair but they were a lot of money for a shoe  to clomp around in the barnyard in 😀  Or can you imagine us clomping through Walmart?? Lol!





This bowl was really neat!  Daddy said you’d have to make sure you started right, or you’d mess the whole thing up 😀





This is part of the mini Dutch village they had set up…a couple of the windmills were turning and the boats were in real water 😀




Come back tomorrow and we’ll have a post ready for you of our visit to Little Sable Lighthouse 😀







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Part Two: Windmill Island
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4 thoughts on “Part Two: Windmill Island

  • September 11, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    Wowsers!!! that is really really cool!!! Jessica those wooden shoes look….interesting on you….i’d really advice you to get some and clomp around walmart :P…they have alot of different designs!
    Have a good evening!

    • September 11, 2011 at 9:34 pm

      Awww…I’m glad you like them Mary! Which one’s would you advise that I clomp around in Walmart in?! Do you think the windmill ones would be a good choice? You should get a matching pair and then we’ll go shopping together ’cause I know how much you like Walmart 😀 It’ll be grand!



  • September 12, 2011 at 9:42 pm

    Wow! I wish I had been on vacation with y’all. It looks to fascinating and so educational. I would have loved to go to the windmill and I want a pair of wooden shoes now! 😀

  • September 13, 2011 at 11:09 am

    those pink flowers are SO pretty!!!
    i love them♥
    the carousel looks fun!!!!
    from threesisters


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