Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Windmill Island Gardens, Holland, MI

After leaving Dutch Village, we decided to eat an early dinner before going to Windmill Island Gardens, and Curragh's Irish Pub, in the heart of downtown Holland, was the perfect place.  It was a beautiful day, and we dined al fresco.

Jerry and I both ordered fish and chips with a side of Irish Soda bread, and iced tea.  

Everything was yummy!

With full tummies, we headed off to our last attraction of the day, Windmill Island Gardens, where "De Zwaan" [translated "The Swan"] Windmill, the only authentic working Dutch windmill in the United States, is located.  

The beautifully manicured gardens were bursting with color from 115,000 tulips!

As at Dutch Village, the guides at Windmill Island wear authentic costume.

Inside The Post House, an exact replica of a 15th century wayside inn.  A 12 minute video about windmills, the Netherlands, and "De Zwaan" is shown here.

The beautiful gardens, which opened in 1965, sits on 36 acres of land.

The 252 year old windmill is queen of the island.  Her history is interesting.  The windmill was first built in the Netherlands in 1761.  Many of the country's windmills sustained serious damage during World War II, so Dutch authorities stopped selling them. 

Two Holland, Michigan residents, who wanted to pay homage to the city's Dutch heritage, traveled to the Netherlands in 1964 to acquire a windmill.  De Zwaan windmill [its original name] was the most damaged, so after lengthy negotiations, the Dutch government agreed to sell it.  It was the last windmill to ever leave the Netherlands.  The City of Holland paid $2,800 for the windmill, and $25,000 to dismantle and ship it.  It arrived in Muskegon Harbor, and was then trucked to the island.  Reconstruction took approximately six months by a Dutch millwright.

Draw-bridge over a canal leading to the windmill.

Jerry and me in front of the tulip gardens.

Beautiful tulip gardens.

We toured five of the seven floors of the windmill.  De Zwaan weights 70 tons, and stands 12 stories high [125 feet from the ground to the top of the blades].  Each windmill blade is 6 feet wide and 40 feet tall.

A millstone used to grind soft white winter wheat into flour.  The wheat is grown by West Michigan farmers.  When the winds are favorable, 200 to 400 lbs. of flour can be milled a day.

Alisa Crawford is the current miller.  She is the only female miller De Zwaan has had, and the only Dutch-certified miller in North America. Milling requires much physical stamina. Hats off to Alisa!  It's a job many females couldn't do.  I certainly couldn't!

Alisa told us the phrase, "Rule of Thumb," is a miller's term for knowing when the flour has been milled to the right texture by rolling it between the thumb and index finger.

Photo overlooking the tulip gardens from the observation deck of the windmill.

The Graceful Bird!

Little Netherlands Village [souvenir shops] on Windmill Island.

An authentic Dutch mailbox.

Windmill garden decoration.

It was the end of a perfect day at Holland, Michigan's 84th Annual Tulip Festival!


  1. Another interesting place, and what gorgeous tulips! I'm so glad you shared your pictures with us.

  2. What a wonderful getaway! Love all the tulips!

  3. We toured this place just last year and I can say the tulips you saw were so much more beautiful than last year for the festival. We were fascinated by the windmill and climbed all the floors too. What a treat!

  4. The tulips are amazingly beautiful! I really enjoyed your series of posts on Holland, MI. Thanks for sharing!
    Blessings, Beth

  5. Oh my goodness, 115,000 tulips! If I have a dozen I really think I've done something! And I LOVE what you shared about "Rule of Thumb." As writers, the DH and I are always sharing tidbits like that with each other. Can't wait to go tell him this one! Thanks!


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