Ir D.F. Woudagemaal steam-powered water pumping station

Outside the village of Lemmer stands the largest steam-driven pumping station in Europe.

It was built to pump water out of low-lying wetlands to regulate water levels. The four black, gleaming steam engines can move up to 6 million m3 of water a day. As you know, the Dutch traditionally used wooden windmills for that job, but when the Age of Steam arrived, they moved with the times – although quite late! The queen opened this pumping station in 1920. I am sure she was pleasantly surprised by all the decorative detail in the interior of what was essentially an industrial building; as well as being impressed by the engineering.
You can book a guided tour of the pumping station at the visitors’ center next door. If you are hoping to see it “under steam”, you should know that it only operates a couple of times a year plus when excessively high water levels require it. For a sneak preview go to

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