West Bend, Iowa
West Bend is home to a number of historical attractions. The best-known landmark is the Grotto of Redemption, which is the world’s largest grotto. It draws visitors from all over the world. The Grotto is dubbed “the Eighth Wonder of the World,” and is the largest collection of rock and semi-precious stones in existence. It has an estimated geological value of more than $2.5 million. It was begun by Father Paul Dobberstein in 1912. He continued his work for 42 years by collecting ornamental rocks and gems and setting them in concrete to represent scenes in the life of Christ. The Grotto is open to visitors year round. Other historical attractions include the Sod House, the Country Schoolhouse, and an historical museum.
West Bend was first in Palo Alto County on the west bend of the Des Moines River in 1855. When the Rock Island Railroad came through the area, the people moved four miles to the east and kept the name West Bend.
Our the world famous Grotto of the Redemption, the largest collection of rock and semi-precious stones in existence. For 42 years, Fr. Paul Dobberstein collected ornamental rocks and gems, setting them in concrete to represent scenes in the life of Christ. The Grotto is open to visitors year round, with hourly tours call 800-868-3641. The Sod House recreates the temporary dwelling many early pioneers built when they first settled on the prairie. The Country Schoolhouse is an original one-room building that has been preserved and restored. The historical Museum and Post Office is also open to visitors. Country Maid, Inc., makers of frozen pastries, opens its facilities for tours. Stay at the new Park View Inn & Suites and Conference Center, a 36-unit facility with an indoor pool/whirlpool, sauna and fitness room (877-612-5366). For more information, contact (515) 887-2371 or www.WestBendIowa.com.
Much of the historical information was taken from Kossuth County history booklet. The information was compiled by Richard Schiek as part of the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the establishment of Kossuth County and the “Kossuth on State” project, dedicated on July 13, 2001. There is a complete bibliography in the back of the Kossuth County History booklet.
West Bend; A Taste of Iowa Life. Brochure funded by Prairie Meadows, West Bend Chamber of Commerce, West Bend Economic Development, and The Grotto of the Redemption. Published in 1998.