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A Piece of Denmark Close to Home

You’ve been to Disney World, the Grand Canyon, and Mall of America. But have you visited the Danish Windmill in Elk Horn, Iowa? This village, typical of small-town America, boasts no roller coasters, natural wonders, or famous cartoon characters. Oh, it is much more original than that! Its uniqueness stems from the town’s residents, ancestors of Danish immigrants. They are people proud of their heritage and intent on preserving it.

When Danes came to America in the mid-1800s searching for prosperity and happiness, they searched for physical surroundings similar to their homeland. The Midwest’s rich farmland and gentle hills provided the background for their new lives. Unable to carry many possessions with them across the sea, they instead found comfort in carrying on many customs and traditions learned in Denmark, many of which are still thriving today.

Festivals held during Thanksgiving and Memorial Day weekends provide the opportunity to experience Danish culture firsthand. Whether you visit during Julefest to see and taste the holidays Dane-style, or take part in Tivoli Fest, the annual summer kick-off celebration, you will want to start at the Danish Windmill. An official Iowa Welcome Center, the Mill is an awesome attraction in its own right. The 1848 windmill is a monstrous shrine to the Danish ties in Elk Horn and surrounding areas. It was dismantled in Norre Snede Juteland, Denmark in 1975 and painstakingly transported to the USA. Not only did enthusiastic volunteers reassemble it, but it is surely in better working order than ever! The millstones dutifully grind flour as the wings fly proudly around. The attached gift shop displays America’s largest selection of Danish imports, hand selected each year in Denmark by Lisa Riggs, the mill’s manager.

You will find The Danish Immigrant Museum nestled between gentle slopes at the edge of town. The quality of the museum compares with that of any major city, yet this tiny village is home to the international cultural center. It offers visitors everything from Victor Borge’s piano to assistance in tracing Danish roots in the genealogy department. You will join the immigrants on their journey from their homeland to America, and experience what it was like as they created new homes, schools and churches.

Bedstemor’s Hus is a restored 1908 home a few blocks from the Museum, decorated and furnished just as you would have found grandmother’s house nearly a century ago. Of interest to the overnight traveler are a Bed and Breakfasts and the AmericInn Motel.

A variety of specialty shops and restaurants beckon as you walk down Main Street. Even the local grocery store is stocked with Danish meats, cheeses, and bread. To experience the culture fully, you must sample the food!

Elk Horn’s sister village, Kimballton, is three miles down the road. You’ll feel “velkommen” before you even arrive, as every passing motorist offers the hometown wave – a quick lift of the forefinger to say “Hi, neighbor.” Kimballton is home to a beautiful reproduction of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale character, The Little Mermaid, gracefully perched atop a rock in front of Bondehuset Park.

A visit to Elk Horn, Iowa is a pleasant and educational one, with Danish hospitality at every turn. No large crowds, long lines, or astronomical admission prices – the tourist is definitely the winner!

For information call (712) 764-7472 or visit



Contact Info |

The Danish Windmill

P.O. Box 245, 4038 Main
Elk Horn, Iowa 51531
(712) 764-7472