General Fiction posted August 18, 2019

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The struggle against the water

The History Of Kinderdijk

by Dutchie

When you visit Kinderdijk, you step right in the middle of the Dutch history.
Everything here lies below sea level, so to keep our feet dry we have been cooperating with wind and water for centuries.
The windmills and waterways tell you the story of the Low Countries.

The famous windmills of Kinderdijk rise high above the polder landscape of the Alblasserwaard.
A thousand years ago this area was one big peat bog, trapped by raging rivers and the fury of the sea. Dykes were raised to keep the water out, but it gave a new problem instead.

Groundwater and rainwater had to be drained from the land within the dykes and discharched
into the river beyond or the polders would be overflooded all over again.
A plan was needed to keep the water out. In the 13th century there came waterboards and sluices
to let the water flow out into the river when it was low tide.

There is a legend about how Kinderdijk got its name. Kinderdijk literally means 'Children's Dyke'.
The water kept fighting back and the continuing drainage caused the peat soil to keep subsiding.
Then on a stormy November night in 1421 the disaster struck...
The infamous Saint Elisabeth's flood swept away the poorly maintained dykes which protected the polder. Thousands of people drowned.

After the flood when the survivors dared to leave their houses to survey the damage, they saw
a cradle bob up and down on the water and heard the crying of a child.
The floating cradle was kept in balance by a cat, jumping up and down to keep the cradle
from sinking. The baby was saved and the village Elshout changed its name in Kinderdijk.


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