The Danish Windmill

Location: Elk Horn, Iowa

Webpage: Historical Landmark

General Description: The windmill in Elk Horn, Iowa was constructed in 1848 at Nørre Snede, Denmark.  For 167 years it has served the needs of the town as a mill and electric generator.  In 1975, Harvey Sornson, had the dream of bringing a piece of Danish heritage to the Danish communities in Iowa and purchased the windmill.  While the communities worked to raise the $100,000 to purchase, dismantle, transport, and reconstruct the mill, carpenters in Denmark began dismantling the mill.  This process included the construction of a 6 foot scale model that had all the pieces numbered identically to the original to be used as a guide during the reconstruction.  In February, 1976 the windmill arrived from Denmark and the long tedious reconstruction project began.  Over 300 volunteers from Elk Horn and the surrounding Danish communities participated in this project.  Today this authentic Danish windmill stands 60 feet tall and when the weather is good is used to grind grain to be sold in the giftshop that also has many other Danish products and keepsakes.  Visitors can also take a tour of the mill when it is not operating.

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Impressions:

1) As this is the only authentic Danish windmill in the US, since Denmark soon passed a law against the sale of their historic windmills, it is well worth the trip north of I-80.  The gift shop has a number of items from Denmark as well, which provided an opportunity to purchase a unique gift or keepsake.

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2) The grounds surrounding the mill are also interesting with some interpretive signs about the Vikings and the history of windmills.  There is also a traditional Danish home on the site.

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