Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Walking in Pella

Before leaving for Poland I made plans to do some traveling to pick up cities beginning with J and K for my Volksmarch Walking the USA book. I thought the late part of summer would be a lovely time for travel. Little did I anticipate that a record heat wave would hit the middle part of the United States during this time. Record yes! Right now the Minnesota State Fair is in operation and that last time it was this warm for the State Fair was 1948.

My choice for J is Jefferson City, Missouri. When planning this trip I decided to stop in Pella, Iowa on the way.

Pella was found in the mid 19th century by 800 immigrants from the Netherlands who sought religious freedom. They arrived here to find that the land corporation with which they had been dealing had not constructed the homes they were promised so they set out building log cabins and sod houses for shelter, and as they say: The rest is history.

Today Pella has a population of slightly more than 10,000 persons. It is home to Central College. The two leading industries are the Pella Corp, which is famous for windows and doors, and Vermeer Manufacturing, which makes industrial and agricultural equipment. During a museum visit I learned two inventions of Vermeer are the hoist that lifts up a wagon or truck box so it can be unloaded and secondly, the type of hay baler that produces the large round bales -- something I see in both the midwest of the United States as well as now in Poland

I arrived on a very hot day and made my first destination the convenience store from which the walk would start. I got the map for the 5 K.  Then I tried to spend another night getting off of Central European Time to Central US Time! I was well awake at 4 AM so ate a quick breakfast at 6 AM and then was off. The temperature was 72 (22 C) in the early morning as the sun was rising. When I started to take a photo of a building with the early morning sun making it so beautiful, my camera said: Change batteries. Oh sugar! I had left all the batteries at the hotel not remembering that the camera had been complaining about this when I left Poland -- that's why I bought batteries at Schiphol Airport. So, I just did the walk, took a couple pictures with my phone and tried to send them to friends, and was done by a few minutes after 8 AM when the temperature was still in the 70s.

Went to McDonalds for what in Poland might be called second breakfast and then came back to the hotel for bit to rest and to read the Pella travel guide and plan the rest of the day.

After lunch I went back to take some photos.

The central area of Pella has many buildings reminiscent of Dutch style and then some that look like late 19th century American style.

The middle of Franklin Street provides one the chance to see the Klonenspiel.

 Behind the tower are bells which play each quarter hour.

Through the arch is a pleasant courtyard.

The walls are lined with scenes made from Dutch tiles.

It can't be a Dutch town without a canal.

And elsewhere I found a tower celebrating the famous tulip festival held here during the first weekend of May. Every time I saw a flower garden I envisioned the space with tulips.

I noticed the Vermeer Mill was open so went exploring. What a wonderful tour. I learned that about 60 years ago people here began to notice that Dutch heritage was disappearing from the town, and so they began a concerted effort to retain and add to that heritage. One activity was to get a windmill -- a iconic building for the Netherlands.

I also learned that Dutch windmills are unique because they were originally designed by sailors who understood how to get power from the wind. The blades of Dutch windmills are different that what will find from other areas, because they have lattice work and incorporate the use of sails.

The windmill was constructed in the Netherlands using primarily peg construction, the type of construction used in the mid-19th century. Then it was taken apart and shipped to Pella. Meanwhile a brick base was constructed for the windmill, a base needed to raise the height the blades above the buildings in the town so that the wind power could be captured. A Dutch construction company sent a group of workers to Pella to reconstruct the mill.

I had no idea how a mill such as this really worked. It all begins daily -- and then many times each day, noticing which direction from which the wind is blowing.

The miller uses the flag to determine the direction from the wind is blowing. He then sets the brake, the pole colored red, white, and blue extending from the outward.

Then he uses a wheel such as one would find on a ship to rotate the cap of the mill so that the blades are in the correct direction to capture the wind.

An ideal wind for accomplishing work -- in the case, grinding wheat into flour, is between 5-15 mph. The miller can open sails to cover the lattice work if the wind is slight and more blade area is needed.

In the photo above the sails are rolled up along the edge of the blade.

The blades turn a large gear which operates the grindstones.

The mill includes housing for the miller for watching the wind all day is a full-time job.

After leaving the mill we stopped to see the Miniature Historical Village. This began as a WPA project during the Depression of the 1930s.

This scene, for examples, dates back to that time, but the one below was completed about 5 years ago, and work on other scenes continues at the present time.

We visitors then could do a self-guided tour for the outdoor buildings that have been collected on this site.

I found a log cabin.

Much to my surprise the guide materials said this cabin had been lived in until 1936.

And a workshop for making wooden shoes.

An interesting historical figure from Pella is Wyatt Earp. If you click on the link and read his biography as prepared by Wikipedia you may wonder why Pella wishes to claim him.

This is the house in which Earp spent his early years before his father moved the family to California.

My next visit during the afternoon was to the Scholte House. Scholte was the pastor and leader of group of immigrants who came from the Netherlands. He brought his second wife as well as three daughters whom he had fathered with his first wife who died before the journey began. He promised his wife a nice house and delivered.

Here is a view from the library which has the original rugs and wall paper, including what appears to be wall paper on the ceiling.

One interesting artifact is the money chest.

This chest carried the gold guilders with which the immigrants bought the land in Iowa.

Scholte was a huge supporter of Lincoln. The house museum has copies of encouraging letters he wrote Lincoln during the time of his presidency.

Another interesting item in the house is this candlelabra.

Scholte brought this to his wife as a gift when returning from Washington, D.C. after Lincoln's inauguration.

I had a nice day in Pella, a very interesting town. One can have fun even on a day with "excessive heat" with a bit of planning and a lot of air-conditioning!

1 comment:

Shaz said...

The Rev. Scolte baptized one of my 3rd great-grandparents sons back in 1835 in Holland. My ancestors were "Seceders" and left the Dutch Reformed Church because they thought it was getting too liberal! In 1847 they sold everything they could and sailed to America. My 3d great-grandmother died as they neared New York and she is buried in Hoboken, NJ. The remainder of the family, father and five children continued on to become among the first settlers of South Holland, Illinois, now a Chicago suburb.