In the morning we loaded up and waited for the ferry to take us across the canal from our island. From Leimuiden we pedaled back to Haarlem to see a bit more of our beloved home base and prepare for the trip back to US. We enjoyed exploring De Cruquius pump museum- the largest steam engine in the world built in 1830 to drain the Haarlemermeer which had been flooding and raising havoc. We are really interested in how the Dutch have managed to reclaim and protect so much land. This museum is a great overview of Dutch Water Management and the historic polder system. (a polder is a piece of low-lying land reclaimed from the sea or a river and protected by dikes with controlled water level). About 1/3 of the Netherlands is below sea level and 2/3 is vulnerable to flooding.
Here's a quote from a previous visitor:
"The Dutch are ingeniously pragmatic people, who have developed a vast hydro engineering expertise. With the rise of the sea levels all over the world, we are wise to turn to them for advice. What is also apparent is how their long-term thinking and collective approach have helped their society prosper, starting even before the Middle Ages with the development of the first polders. Amazing foresight! And what a gem to have preserved this feat of engineering, billed as the “world’s largest steam engine.” It is impressive in its mass and scale, especially since it was built in the 1830s or ‘40s! The machine is a monument to human ingenuity, and the museum is a monument to Dutch social pragmatism. "
From the museum website: "The Cruquius houses the worlds’ largest steam engine: its main cylinder has a diameter of 3.66 meter! The engine could drain up 320.000 liters of water per minute, that’s an olympic swimming pool every 8 minutes.The engine room, unchanged since 1849, is a miracle of Victorian technology."