In addition to providing a view into Dutch history, Little Chute’s authentic Netherland windmill serves a wide population by providing volunteer opportunities, space for community activities and meetings, diverse cultural and historical exhibits, and events and educational programming for schoolchildren.
Watching the over 100-foot-tall windmill blades turning in the wind is almost as mesmerizing as seeing the intricate series of gears and wheels that, in the case of the Little Chute windmill, transform grain into flour. As in the old days, the operations of the windmill are overseen by a grain miller, trained by Verbij Millwrights (4th generation Millwrights who built our windmill in Holland) or by current certified grain millers. They are responsible for turning the windmill’s cap to face the wind (a job that requires 24/7 on-call availability), assisting with grain grinding on scheduled grinding days, assisting with running the windmill blades during special events, and implementing precautions and programs that ensure the general safety of our staff and guests.
Almost as iconic a symbol of Dutch history as the windmill is “Kermis,” a celebration dating back to the year 1023. The word “kermis” comes from the combination of two Dutch words; “kerk” meaning church, and “mis” meaning mass. Dutch kermis was, as the name suggests, centered on a mass to celebrate the founding of a town’s church and/or to honor the town’s patron saint. Through the years, kermis fun fairs have grown into celebrations of Dutch heritage and all things Holland.
The windmill is only one of Little Chute’s historical buildings. In addition to admiring the construction and mechanics of the windmill, visitors interested in architecture will appreciate the unique structure and old-world charm of the attached Van Asten Visitor Center which features a museum dedicated to preserving the history of Dutch settlement in the region. Developed and maintained by the Little Chute Historical Society, the museum is home to a variety of Dutch artifacts and a historical archive and genealogy database and workspace where visitors can explore their Dutch ancestry.
For botany enthusiasts and flower buffs, the Little Chute windmill is surrounded by lush gardens that provide a perfect backdrop for family photos or a peaceful stroll. And since no sightseeing tour would be complete without a souvenir, there’s a gift shop featuring a bit of all things Dutch including sacks of flour ground in the mill.
Engineering experts and everyday mechanical enthusiasts alike are amazed by the 1800’sera technology in action. Originally, windmills were devised for pumping water out of low-lying areas so the land could be farmed. The mechanics were, however, adapted over the years to perform a number of tasks such as pressing oil from seeds, grinding dyes and chalks to produce pigments for paint, sawing wood, and of course, grain milling – crushing grains like wheat and corn into flour.