Windmills Inside and Out

September 09, 2006


You just can not go to Holland and miss out on learning more about wind mills. They are intriguing inventions and one wonders how the first person came upon the idea of harnessing the wind for his work horse. It was interesting to learn that windmills were not just for pumping water but here working mills were used in all kinds of different ways including making paper, mustard, linseed oil, snuff and the ingredients for Rembrandt’s paints.

They are awesome from the outside, huge and enchanting somehow, but even more of a surprise inside. They are loud with all that cranking and grinding once you are inside. Mozart was fearless and climbed the very steep and narrow stairs to the tippy top with her father while I kept my feet firmly planted on terra firma. There were two gigantic granite round grinders at the bottom and a miller explained the process to us. If you like humungus wooden gears, you will love the inside of a windmill!

The brown windmill in the center is the one we explored the most and the one Mozart and DaVinci climbed to the top. It is called De Kat (the cat) and is a dye mill .It is the last wind-powered dye mill in the world. They produce antique paints and dyes. This windmill is what they call a smock mill. Only the top cap part with its sails are turned to face the wind by means of of the capstan wheel at the bottom of the tail-pole. The horizontal rotation of the sails is converted into vertical rotation movement by the break wheel in order to power the machinery on the floor below. The windmill can not work without the miller who turns the 15 ton cap into the face of the wind (when there is wind of course as it can be a capricious source of energy).

In 1920 there were only about 50 windmills left of the 1000 that had made the Zaan area the oldest industrial area in the world. So they started a society to preserve the windmills for future generations.
If you would like to know more about these windmills, check out their website at 
(normally I preview all websites that I list and know them well, but since I can not get online much now,
you will have to see for yourself how worthy this one is).











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