Holland, Michigan


IMG_9028We are still on Lake Michigan navigating 23 miles south of Grand Haven to Holland, MI.  I read, this is one of the most popular cruising areas in Michigan.  The inlet off Lake Michigan is Lake Macatawa conveniently located 80 miles from Chicago.  The lake is lined with fancy resorts and numerous Marinas.  Holland, MI located on the south shore of Lake Macatawa is best known for its “Tulip Festival.

We are staying at Anchorage Marina at the end of the Lake Macatawa.  Kent chose this marina because it’s sheltered from the waves and wind off Lake Michigan.  Lake Macatawa is 6 miles long and contains two bays, Big Bay and the smaller Pine Creek Bay.  The lake is the drowned river mouth of Macatawa River (formerly known as the Black Forest) which feeds into the lakes eastern end in the City of Holland.  No matter what marina you stay at on Lake Macatawa you need to find public transportation to the City of Holland.

Greg the harbor master goes above what is expected I would recommend this marina to every looper as a must stay.  Anchorage Marina & Yacht Club is family friendly, nice and quiet with great views.  The facility is nice and clean with an indoor/outdoor pool, club house with great food, a party store for basic supplies like (beer, wine, booze ) you know the important things.


Greg came to our boat Monday night for a visit and we exchanged stories of our travels.  He told us when he was eight his father and four others died in a fishing boat accident on Lake Michigan during heavy seas.  It still remains a mystery as the bodies and boat have never been recovered.   We had a rain shower on Monday night and this is a picture of the amazing rainbow.

IMG_8995The narrowest point of the channel connection Lake Michigan to Lake Macatawa is right in front of Big Red lighthouse at only 180 feet wide.  This makes it very tight for massive freighters to “squeeze through” the narrow passage, giving the impression that one could reach out and touch them.

IMG_8998Hollands iconic crimson lighthouse affectionately known as Big Red has command the entrance of Holland Harbor since 1907.  The first Holland light built-in 1872 was a small wood building on legs perched atop the deck of a pier extending into Lake Michigan.  It housed an oil lamp lit by a lighthouse keeper.   Today the light in Big Reds tower is electrified and computerized eliminating the need for light keeper.  The lighthouse commission owns only the lighthouse not the private land between South Shore Drive and South Holland Pier.

IMG_9003As we entered the inlet I took this picture later to find out that this home belongs to David Van Andel which replaced his parents modest olive-green Lake Michigan cottage.   He is the owner of the private property to the light house.  This property was once home to Macatawa Hotel.  The neighborhood was a popular beach resort in the late 1800s and early 1900s, attracting people from Chicago and St Louis by boat and train.  The picturesque beach setting was also where author L. Frank Baum summered and may have been the inspiration for his classic “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” published in 1900.

IMG_9014Tuesday Kent and I took a Uber to Windmill Island Gardens where we took a tour of the 250 year-old authentic Dutch working windmill.  It still mills grain into flour that was transported from the Netherlands. Windmill Island Gardens is 36 acres of beautifully manicured lawns and gardens.

The organ house is home to a “De Vier Kolommen” “The Four Columns” 69 metal key organ built-in 1928.  The organ was donated to the city of Holland in 1947 by the City of Amsterdam.  The gift was in gratitude for the role of the United States in liberating the Netherlands in World War II.

The cherry tunes of street organs are popular on cobblestone streets in the Netherlands.  The organ is played on the half hr and hr. each day.  We were right on time to hear it as we entered  Windmill Island Gardens.

Windmill Island has dikes, canals, and flower beds with more than 100,000 tulips in the spring.   The bridge we crossed over the canal is a replica of one that spanned the Amstel River in the province of Nord Holland.  The original historic drawbridge has been relocated to the open air museum in Arnhem.  The carousel formerly a carnival ride in the province of Groningen was brought to America in the 1970s.  The windmill doesn’t look to big until you start walking toward it.  In 1964 the city of holland purchased the windmill De Zwaan from a retired mill in the town of Vinkel in the province of Noord Brabant the Netherlands and was shipped to the port of Muskegon Michigan on the ship Prins Willem van Oranje.   It was brought by truck to its present location and reconstructed.  The ground floor of the mill is surrounded by thick brick walls.  These bricks were laid in the traditional Dutch style sloping downward to drain water from the building.   It took extensive negotiations with the Dutch government as they had previously passed a law, no more windmills would be allowed to leave the country.  DeZwaan ended up being the last authentic Dutch windmill to leave.  There were 9,000 Windmills in the Netherlands in the mid 1800s but after the war only 900 remained. IMG_9030The impact of war can be seen on one of DeZwaan original windmill blades which has 19 bullet holes peppered through it.  We took a tour of the mill which was not operating due to lack of wind.  This was amazing actually being in a working windmill from the Netherlands and our tour guide was very informative.

IMG_9093Alisa Crawford the first dutch certified miller in America runs the present-day operation at the mill.  The mill uses stones powered by wind to grin grains from local Michigan farmers.  We toured the five stories of this remarkable windmill learning its story and how Alisa Crawford grinds wheat into flour using centuries old technology.  This is a one person operation all done by hand with ropes, pulleys, grinding stones, and wooden gears.  When something breaks a part has to come from the Netherland to fix it.

We began on ground floor with two sets of double doors which allowed farmers to drive their horse-drawn wagons full of bagged wheat right into the mill.  The flour is ground on the fifth floor so farmers used the elevator to convey the bags of wheat through an open elevator shaft.  The shaft is also where the millers wooden shoe telephone is found as farmers could slip a note or payment into the shoe and the miller would pull up the rope when he had a chance.

The second floor was packaging and third floor was storage and tools.  On the fourth floor we are no longer surrounded by bricks but by the mills original wood timbers.  The Dutch imported Norwegian fir beams to construct the mill in 176.  They carved Roman numerals in the sides of the beams which helped the millwright with assembling the mill.

This floor is known as the “milling floor” and is where the milling process is fine-tuned the miller can regulate the grinding process by raising or lowering the top mill stone.  We walked out on the gallery deck were we could see how truly immense the 80 feet long and six feet wide blades are.  Even if I don’t like heights the view was amazing and I would love to come back in the spring to see all the tulips.  From this gallery deck the miller can rotate the cap of the mill so the blades are facing into the wind and can start and stop the blades from turning.


As we climbed up the to the fifth floor the mill narrows towards the top and the two massive sets of grindstone take up most of the floor space.  There are three gears on this floor when the miller releases the brakes and allows the blades to turn the massive gear in the middle begins to turn.  The wooden gears are lubricated with beeswax and turn very quietly.  The narrow stairs are what the miller used to climb to different floors.  They have now installed new stair for tourist “Thank God”.   The mill was sold out of flour so we couldn’t purchase any.    Alisa can’t grind more flour until the wind is strong enough for the windmill to turn.

IMG_9119Windmill Island also have the antique tropical green home, the “Little Netherlands” historic display a maquette of life in an 18th-century Dutch village.   There shop and snack bar are located in the brick structure which is a replica of the Royal Orphanage in the province of Gerderland.  The wooden buildings are modeled after buildings from the Zaan region.  We also watched a very informative short film.

When we were done enjoying Windmill Island Kent and I walked about a mile into Holland to tour the town and have a drink.   Holland has preserved the city’s Dutch heritage and they have life-sized statues gracing the streets and parks of the city.  The statues represent everything about Holland, the people, the spirit, and the history of a town founded by hard-working dutch immigrants which has throughout the years developed into a town rich with culture and personality.

The streets of Holland are lined with building constructed mainly between the 1890s and 1930s.  The vast majority of shops, galleries, and eateries are independent owned and operated.  Upper levels floors offer unique residence and office space.  I found out that shoppers don’t have to worry about slipping on ice or traipsing through snow in downtown Holland in the winter.  They have an underground heating system designed to keep the streets and sidewalks snow free during winter, installed in 1988.  What a great idea now guys have no excuse why their wives can’t shop in the winter as they will not slip and fall.

One of Holland’s oldest surviving buildings is actually fireproof built-in 1884, which originally housed the fire station on the first floor and city hall on the second floor.  The tower clock built-in 1892 is a downtown landmark the Richardson romanesque style building first housed Holland’s City-State Bank.  The Knickerbocker Theatre built-in 1911 has and interesting story.  Days before it was to open on March 1, 1911 tragedy struck and took the life of 28yr. old Tieman Salgh when he fell hanging the electric sign for the theater.  Some of the towns people took it as a sign that Knickerbocker was not condoned as a Christian place of entertainment and the theatre remained dark and unopened until September of that year.  The theater has gone through many owners over the course of the years and has now been donated to Hope College and serves as a multi purpose facility.

We stopped at the 8th Street grill which was once a pharmacy and when they remodeled they found this original tin ceiling.  I love to see building restored back to its original designed.  We had a drink and had to check out their barbecue wings.  Then we walked around the town and ended up at the Irish pub.   I had to take a picture of this saying above one of their secluded tables.

We had only planned on staying two days at this beautiful Marina but the weather didn’t cooperate with our stay lasting four days.

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