Historical moments - Golden Circle History

Historical moments - Golden Circle History

The enclosure of the Zuiderzee

The best defense against the turbulent sea is the attack. This is probably what Cornelis Lely thought when he launched his plans for the enclosure of the Zuiderzee. He wanted to construct a 30-kilometer-long dike between the two Dutch provinces of Noord-Holland and Friesland. As a result, the enclosed part of the Zuiderzee would desalinate and turn into a fresh water lake. Within this area five polders could be constructed. The remainder of the lake was to be used as a fresh water basin, which would prevent the farmland from becoming brackish. The enclosure would reduce the coastline by nearly 300 kilometers. This would make it much easier to keep the sea at bay. Moreover, it would bring Holland's northernmost province closer to the western part of Holland. In 1927 construction began on the main dike from Den Oever to the small town of Zurich and on 28 May 1932 the Afsluitdijk (IJssel Lake Dam) was finished.

Empoldering Wieringermeer

In 1926 construction began on a dike for the experimental polder of Andijk. This was a practice run for the construction of five polders: Wieringermeer, Noordoostpolder, Oostelijk and Zuidelijk Flevoland and, last but not least, Markerwaard. On 21 August 1930 the Wieringermeer Polder was the first reclaimed polder.

Empoldering Noordoostpolder

After the completion of the Afsluitdijk, empoldering continued. In 1936 work was started on the Noordoostpolder dike. Millions of tons of sand and boulder clay were used. Subsequently, all the water was pumped out and the polder was reclaimed in 1942. Three pumping-stations kept this area dry. Some 50,000 hectares of land were reclaimed. Even during World War II clearing and plowing of the soil of the new land continued. The occupying forces supported this gigantic job. By the end of the war, in 1945, most of this land was fit for agriculture.
When the Noordoostpolder was reclaimed in 1942, the island of Schokland was also empoldered. This former island has become a symbol for the continuous struggle of the Dutch against the rising water. The struggle has been won, and Schokland is now one of the monuments on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Empoldering Flevoland

Holland's youngest province was reclaimed step by step. In 1957 the eastern part of the province was reclaimed and in 1968 the southern part became dry. This, now mature, province, attracted people from throughout Holland and has a very varied population. A population which has always worked hard for the future of Flevoland.

If you wish to learn more about the struggle of the Dutch against the water, do visit the Nieuw Land Poldermuseum in Lelystad.

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