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Copyright 2005 - 2020 by Thomas Haskell

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De Immigrant

The Immigrant

Status

Open and operating.

 

Tours

Tours are available during open hours.  No admission fee is required, but a donation is suggested.  Visit the mill's gift shop at the street-level entrance.

 

Hours

May

   Saturday: 10:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.

   Sunday: 1:00 to 5:00 P.M. 

 

June through August

   Weekdays: 10:00 A.M. to 5:00P.M.

   Saturday: 10:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.

   Sunday: 1:00 to 5:00 P.M. 

 

September

   Weekdays: 10:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M.

   Saturday: 10:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.

   Sunday: 1:00 to 5:00 P.M. 

 

October

   Saturday: 10:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.

   Sunday: 1:00 to 5:00 P.M.

 

Closed / non-operational during winter.

 

Wheelchair Accessible

Ground and stage levels

 

Websites

De Immigrant information

De Immigrant construction

 

Tower Height

45' - 11"

 

Sail Span

72'

 

Uses

(2001 - present) Wheat

(2001 - present) Buckwheat

(2001 - present) Rye

(2001 - present) Corn

 

Constructed

(1999 - 2001)

 

Millwrights

Molema Millbuilders

Havenga Construction

Willett and Hofmann Engineers

 

Owner

City of Fulton (2001 - present)

 

Honors

2001: Governor's Hometown Award

2001: Engineering Accomplishment to Willett and Hofmann

Sources

 

Historic Photographs

De Immigrant stands ready to grind in summer 2009.

Photo by Tom Haskell

History of the Mill

 

To celebrate its strong Dutch heritage, the City of Fulton dedicated a parcel of land on a flood-control dike along the Mississippi river for the new construction of an authentic Dutch smock windmill.  To ensure authenticity, it was decided that the mill would be built in the Netherlands by native millwrights.  A contract was signed on December 4, 1998 in the Netherlands to employ Lowlands Management, Molema Millbuilders, and Havenga Construction to build the mill in sections at a time and have the parts shipped to Fulton for final assembly.  Construction began the following January after the arrival of thirty metric tons of bilinga wood to Molema.

 

Once the different parts were carved and fitted, they were sent (first by boat, then by rail and truck) to Fulton, where the windmill was built in phases.  To ensure accuracy in its reconstruction, Roman numerals were carved into the main cant posts and in all of the fitting floor joists and cross beams.  The octagonal tower was shipped and built first; it was also built separately from the base, cap, and machinery.  Once the foundation was poured and the cap arrived, the three parts were put together at once in “The Big Lift” on November 19, 1999.  A crane was used to lift the tower onto the base, lift the cap onto the tower, and then to install the sails into the cast-iron wind shaft.

 

The next few years of construction were dedicated to phase II of the process which included the gear work, mill stones, brick work, and landscaping.  On May 5, 2001, the fully functional De Immigrant was brought into service with a dedication ceremony, and the mill has been grinding ever since.

                

The windmill itself does closely resemble the construction and methods used by German immigrants 150 years ago.  Unlike the stellingmolens, or stage mills, across the rest of the state, this mill is much more traditional to Holland in that it is a beltmolen, a windmill built into a hill or dike.  The mill’s external architecture and colors better reflect mills still operating overseas.  The windmill is very modern, with an iron wind shaft, metal sail stocks, iron quants, a brick façade (using bricks from two 100-year-old buildings in Holland), and a concrete foundation.

 

Because this windmill was built more for show than for milling, space was compromised.  There is only one run-of-stone in this mill, although it does grind a variety of grain.  The milling is done on a platform a few steps up from the reefing floor.  A stone crane is present and can be used to clean and redress the stones if necessary.  A bolting machine is also on this floor; the ground product is sacked and then hoisted and poured into the sifter, which then needs to be hand-cranked (as opposed to a larger bolting machine below the grinding floor, with a wind-powered sifter to make this process automatic).

 

As modern as the mill may be, traditional methods are still used in its operation: hog lard is used to lubricate metal parts; sheep lard for the dead curb; and beeswax for the gears’ teeth.  The sails must also be grounded when not in use, or they could attract a lightning strike.  The bilinga wood used is among the finest in the world.  It is one of the only woods that is durable, does not easily decay, does not attract insects, and is less susceptible to fire.  Bilinga trees grow tall before sprouting branches, which means that very few, if any, knots or imperfections exist in the wood.

 

The windmill operates on a near daily basis, largely with the help of volunteer millers who are always on duty.  Flags representing the provinces of Holland fly at each corner of the stage rail.  Even though this mill may not be as old as the other four, it is nonetheless historic in that an entire town dedicated itself to the task of raising the funds and effort to fabricate, erect, and maintain a Dutch windmill for generations to come.

 

In 2009 construction continued on a new museum—the Windmill Cultural Center—just across the street, which would contain all sorts of Dutch artifacts, town history, and 21 scale models representing windmills from all across Europe over time.  The WCC was formally dedicated in April 2010.  In addition to the exhibits, tours of both the WCC and of the windmill are available.  In June 2010, De Immigrant and the WCC were both featured on WGN-TV’s “Cruisin’ Illinois” segment with reporter Julian Crews; the segment also covered sights in nearby Oregon, IL.