Take a Look Inside DeZwaan Windmill in Holland, Michigan

The Tulip Time Festival returns to Holland, MI May 3-10, 2014! To get us excited for the event, guest blogger Ann Van Heest from Discover Holland gives us a look inside of one of Holland’s iconic sights – DeZwaan Windmill. 

Photo courtesy of Discover Holland

Photo courtesy of Discover Holland

Windmill Island Gardens is one of Holland’s true gems.  A visit to this 36-acre park adjacent to Holland’s downtown area is like stepping two centuries back in time, as you’ll find authentic Dutch architecture framing a view of the Island’s crown jewel: DeZwaan Windmill. Today we’ll tour five stories of this remarkable windmill, learning its story and how our Dutch-certified miller grinds wheat into flour using centuries-old technology.

DeZwaan (The Swan) Windmill was brought to Holland, Mich. from the Netherlands in 1964. It opened to the public in 1965 and enjoys the unique status of being the United States’ only authentic, working, Dutch windmill, as well as the last windmill to leave the Netherlands.

Photo courtesy of Discover Holland

Photo courtesy of Discover Holland

We’ll begin on the ground floor of the mill, where we see that we’re surrounded by thick brick walls. These bricks were laid in the traditional Dutch style, sloping downward to drain water from the building. The two sets of double doors on the ground floor allowed farmers to drive their horse and wagon full of bagged wheat right into the mill. The flour is ground on the fifth story of the mill, so farmers would have to use the “elevator” to convey the bags up to the grinding floor. The elevator is a wind-powered pulley that hoists bags of wheat through an open elevator shaft. The shaft is also where the miller’s wooden-shoe telephone is found.  Traditionally, millers spent most of their days in the upper floors of the mill and visiting farmers would send their messages to the miller via a wooden shoe attached to a rope! They could slip a note or payment into the shoe and the miller would pull up the rope when he had a chance.

Photo courtesy of Discover Holland

Photo courtesy of Discover Holland

The tour continues through packaging and storage floors, where we might see the miller and her assistants bagging DeZwaan-ground flour that is sold at the gift shop or distributed to local restaurants for use in their baked goods and pizza crusts.

Take a look at some of the original pieces and parts of the mill, mounted on the wall for us to touch and examine. Your guide will share the story of some of these pieces and how they were made, and she will also tell you how the blades of the mill were used to convey information for communities and also used as signals during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands in World War II.

On the fourth floor of the mill, we’ll look around and see that there are no longer surrounded by brick, but by the mill’s original wood timbers. The Dutch imported Norwegian fir beams to construct the mill in 1761, and you can see how they were hand-planed. Look for the Roman numerals carved in the sides of the beams, which helped the millwrights who originally assembled the mill know how the beams fit together. They also guided the modern millwrights who re-assembled the mill in Holland, Michigan! This floor is known as the “milling floor,” and is where the milling process is fine-tuned – the miller can regulate the grinding process by raising or lowering the top millstone.

Out on the gallery deck, we can see how truly immense the blades are! This is my favorite part, as we can get a great view of the tulip fields planted adjacent to the mill, but also get up close and personal with the blades, which are 80 feet long and six feet wide. From this gallery deck, the miller can rotate the cap of the mill so the blades are facing into the wind, and she can also engage the brake and stop the blades from turning.

Photo courtesy of Discover Holland

Photo courtesy of Discover Holland

We will climb up to the fifth floor of the mill, which is noticeably tight quarters as the mill narrows towards the top and the two massive sets of grindstones take up most of the floor space. There are three gears on this floor, which the miller must engage in order to operate the elevator pulley we first learned about on the ground floor, or to begin the grinding process. When the miller releases the brakes and allows the blades to turn, the massive gear in the middle of this room begins to turn. Despite the many tons of gears now turning, the sound is just a whisper, as the wooden gears are lubricated with beeswax and turn very quietly. When the grinding gears are engaged, the noise is still much quieter than you’d expect!

Photo courtesy of Discover Holland

Photo courtesy of Discover Holland

Thanks for joining us on a tour of our graceful DeZwaan. We hope you will come and experience it with us! During the Tulip Time festival (May 3-May 10), visitors will be able to experience the more than 100,000 tulips blooming at Windmill Island Gardens, guided tours of the mill, the authentic Dutch street organ and a short film screened every thirty minutes in the post house building. Take time to tour the antique tropical green house, the “Little Netherlands” historic display, and visit the gift shop which also sells homemade fudge. There is plenty of parking, and Windmill Island Gardens is open daily from 9am-7pm during the festival, and 9:15-5 during the summer months.

Screen Shot 2014-04-21 at 11.56.07 AMAnn Van Heest is the information coordinator at the Holland Visitors Bureau. Her first job was selling fudge at Windmill Island Gardens. Follow her @DiscoverHolland on Twitter and Instagram.

 

 

An Insider’s Guide to Exploring Michigan Car Culture in Summer 2014

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the Ford Mustang! Why not celebrate this milestone by hopping in the car and exploring Michigan’s automotive past and present this summer? We put together this list of automotive attractions and events happening around the state to help guide your trip. So, start your engines and see how car culture runs deep in Pure Michigan.

For more information on Michigan automotive attractions and events, visit michigan.org.

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Do you plan to attend any Michigan auto events this summer? 

Celebrate the Ford Mustang’s 50th Anniversary at The Henry Ford

Did you know that the Ford Mustang celebrates its 50th Anniversary this month? Today, guest blogger Lish Dorset tells us how to join in on the celebration at The Henry Ford Museum. 

Photo courtesy of The Henry Ford

Photo courtesy of The Henry Ford

This year, it’s all about the Mustang at The Henry Ford. If you’re a fan of classic cars, there’s a lot to be excited about this year as the Ford Mustang turns 50. Launched in April 1964, the Mustang was the first of the American pony cars and instantly became an American icon, creating a loyal fan base right from the beginning.

If you’ve been to Henry Ford Museum, you know that we have two very special Mustangs within our collections. The 1962 Ford Mustang I Roadster Concept Car and the 1965 Mustang Serial Number One are visitor favorites within Driving America and help tell the story of the early days of this classic car. As part of the year-long celebration of all-things Mustang, we’ve put these two important vehicles on the road as part of our THF OnWheels Tour so that car lovers across the country can see these two classics up close.

Photo courtesy of The Henry Ford

Photo courtesy of The Henry Ford

Our Mustangs first went out on the road this past January at the 2014 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. As part of Ford’s presence at the show, guests were greeted by these two icons as the company told the story of the car’s history in their exhibit inside Cobo Hall. The cars’ next stop was to Las Vegas and North Carolina for the Mustang 50th Anniversary Celebration in mid-April.

Where can you see our Mustangs back here in Michigan? At this year’s Motor Muster at Greenfield Village. We’re expecting a great Mustang turnout this summer, so it’s definitely an event not to miss.

It’s been a lot of fun so far this year helping celebrate the anniversary of this fantastic car. Whether it’s downloading a wallpaper for your phone or keeping an eye on our blog for updates from our curator of transportation, there’s almost always something Mustang-related to share here at The Henry Ford.

Photo courtesy of The Henry Ford

Photo courtesy of The Henry Ford

Our biggest gift to Mustang fans is our THF OnWheels Mustang #1 Fantasy Sweepstakes. Now through September 30 you can enter the sweepstakes for a chance to enjoy a unique, behind-the-scenes experience with our Mustangs as well as a trip to Detroit for the 2015 North American International Auto Show. It’s the ultimate in VIP experiences for VIP Mustang fans.

To keep up to date with automotive happenings at The Henry Ford, make sure to subscribe to THF OnWheels, our enthusiast channel for car lovers. From feature stories to event information, it’s a one-stop-destination for the car news you need. And it’s a great resource for fueling your love of Mustang this year.

Lish Dorset is the social media manager for The Henry Ford in Dearborn. She lives in Royal Oak with her family. She learned how to drive in a 1994 Ford Mustang, much to her mother’s objection.

For more information on the Mustang’s 50th Anniversary Celebration, watch the video below: