Windmills and Wooden Shoes

We took the train from Amsterdam to visit Zaanse Schaans. This area is also referred to as Zaanstreek and was once considered a major industrial area by the Dutch.  At its peak there were more than 1,100 windmills operating everything from sawmills, oil and cocoa presses, paint mills, and even husking rice and barley.  Most of the mills close to Amsterdam were regretfully dismantled.  These mills were reconstructed using original materials and based on the original plans to show what life was once like…

The train drops you off about a mile away from Zaanse Schaans.  There are signposts that take you through a very non-scenic part of town.  However, we ended up walking right past the ADM Cocoa plant. The sweet smell of chocolate was intoxicating and set the mood for an amazing day.
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We stopped at a little Boulangerie (French bakery) to grab some take-away before heading into Zaanse Schaans (there is only one on the path to the park).  I highly recommend the Turkse pizza.  The sausage pizza had a very thin crust, was topped with salad and dressing, and then rolled almost like a Chipolte burrito.  Tasty!
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We bought our tickets and headed into the park.  Zachary was ready to go…
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We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to visit the sawmill.  It was impressive to say the least.  This wind generated contraption was very efficient.  The sawmill was located on the river so that logs could be easily floated to the mill.  The logs were de-barked and loaded onto large sleds for processing.  A series of rotors controlled the up-and-down movement of the saw blades, while another pulley system actually pulled the logs through the blades. The blades could be manually set to a variety of widths using spacers which allowed them to not only make different cut patterns, but also process logs of different dimensions.
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We also saw a neat little clock museum that contained examples of old clocks ranging from candles with time marks, to Egyptian dripping buckets with lines to identify the amount of time passed,  clocks powered by cannon balls, an example of the first pendulum clock, and complicated time pieces that displayed time, day of the week, sunrise & sunset times, times in different cites, etc.
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Zachary enjoyed the chiming and bell ringing in the clock museum.
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The Dutch still make clogs and we saw a few people wearing them (in the gift shop).  Today they are now really just a tourist souvenir, but it was interesting to see the large variety and also see how they are made. The shoes are easily reproduced using a duplicator system.  A combination lathe and circular saw is used to shape the outside of the shoe.  A bore is used to shape the inside of the shoe.
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There is a small museum at Zaanse Schaans that I am sure has a lot of neat stuff if you spent the time.  We saw some amazingly detailed clogs and a fun Dutch painting.  The painting looks like a scene out of a Spanish bullfight and the Wizard of Oz.  The description of the painting told a more horrific story that I won’t go into.
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The real reason we went to museum was the Verkade Chocolate factory tour.  Okay, it wasn’t a real factory, but we did see what the machinery looked like…
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At the end of the tour we were greeted by a nice Dutch woman who offered Zachary his first biscuit.
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After the crowds dissipated we took some pictures around the little town, and also tried our hand at a family portrait.  Using a mini-tripod and the camera timer, we had mixed results between Zachary’ distractions and random people encroaching on our framed photos.
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Here are a few obligatory landscape photos…
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Here are the windmills in action…

One Response to “Windmills and Wooden Shoes”

  1. Mom says:

    Jody wouldn’t it be cool to have a sawmill and cut your own wood for your projects. Amazing how they can do everything with windmills. So smart.

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