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Iowa History Daily: February 4 - Elk Horn Windmill Arrives

Iowa History Daily: On February 4, 1976, the only working Danish Windmill in the United States arrived in Elk Horn. The 60’ Windmill celebrates Elk Horn and Kimballton as the largest Danish settlement in the United States.

In 1975, local farmer Henry Sornson visited Denmark and returned to Shelby County with an idea: Elk Horn should acquire a Danish windmill and move it to America to celebrate the Bicentennial in 1976. The idea caught on, and within six months the townspeople raised funds to purchase a 60-foot smock windmill that had been built in1848 in Nørre Snede, Denmark.

Already a survivor of a fire and both world wars, the windmill now faced a journey across the Atlantic once workers completed deconstruction. The numbered parts, as well as a scale replica to guide workers, sailed for America during late 1975. After a series of challenges related to moving the large blades and other parts, the disassembled mill arrived in Elk Horn in February 1976.

Local enthusiasm led an estimated 300 volunteers to pitch in over the following months to reassemble the windmill. Even with the volunteer labor, by the time the structure officially started to grind grain and welcome visitors a cost of $100,000 (in 1976 $) resulted from the project. Well worth the cost, the structure still stands as the only working Danish Windmill in America. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


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