De Immigrant is an authentic Dutch windmill built in The Netherlands specifically for Fulton. It was dedicated May 6, 2000.
The authentic Dutch windmill sits on a berm along the flood control dike. The dike, completed in the early 1980's, protects Fulton from frequent flooding of the Mississippi River.
Fulton's Dutch windmill is a "beltmolen". In Dutch, "belt" means mound of dirt and "molen" means mill. De Immigrant, like most beltmolens, has an entrance at ground level.
This windmill was designed, manufactured, and partially assembled in The Netherlands then disassembled and transported to Fulton via ship, rail, and truck. Two craftsmen from The Netherlands journeyed to Fulton to reassemble the mill; the job lasted nearly ten months. The millwrights were joined by two Dutch masons who cleaned and installed the bricks used for the mill. The bricks near the ground level entrance were salvaged from a building in The Netherlands that was one hundred twenty years old. The bricks used around the base of the mill are from a Dutch building that was one hundred fifty years old.
The thirty-five foot tall base is constructed of solid wooden beams made from bilinga wood, a heavy, dense, durable wood from Africa. Eight bilinga beams, each weighing one ton, provide the octagon shaped framework for the mill. The framework is secured with wooden pegs. The base unit alone weighs fifty tons.
The twenty-five ton cap sits on top of the octagon base; it contains the sails, the shaft for the sails, the brake wheel, and the brake. The brake wheel is located in the cap and has many large wooden cogs (teeth). As the wind moves the sails, the brake wheel rotates causing the other interior shafts and gears to move. Sheep fat is used to lubricate the wooden beams on which the cap turns while beeswax is used to lubricate the brake wheel cogs.
The ninety foot tall windmill is a fully operational mill. The entire cap can turn and the sails operate by wind power. Through fundraising efforts, grinding stones were added and officially dedicated on May 5, 2001.
The grinding stones are fifty-five inches in diameter. The bed and runner stones weigh 2000 pounds and 2650 pounds respectively. They are made of blue basalt, a hard, volcanic rock, quarried in Germany. The first bag of buckwheat flour was ground on May 2, 2001.
Volunteer millers provide information about operating the mill, selecting grain, and sifting flour. If wind conditions are favorable, they mill wheat, rye, buckwheat, or corn. Stone-ground flour from De-Immigrant is available for sale in the gift shop located at the Windmill Cultural Center. Friends of Windmill, another group of volunteers, act as hosts and hostesses and provide information about windmills, The Netherlands, and Dutch heritage. This group operates the windmill and Windmill Cultural Center gift shop. Friends of the Windmill is the fundraising organization that accepts charitable donations on behalf of the windmill and Windmill Cultural Center. Donations to this group are tax deductible. Monies are used to make enhancements to the mill and the Windmill Cultural Center.