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.


“A Rock Solid Community” is home to the world famous Grotto of the Redemption. The Grotto is the largest collection of rock and semi-precious stones in existence. Father 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, offering hourly tours. Visit www.westbendgrotto.com or call (515) 887-2371. The West Bend Historical Society has created a replica of a Sod House, which represents the temporary dwellings that many early pioneers built when first settling on the prairie. A restored Country Schoolhouse and Post Office along with two Historical Museums featuring displays that provide a look back at people, places and progress through the history of West Bend and the surrounding area are all available for tours. While there, view the video about how Country Maid (manufacturer of Butter Braid Pastries) started in the basement of a farmhouse and has grown to serve customers in over 45 states. Contact the Historical Society at (515) 200-9234. Stop at the Old Fashioned Soda Fountain located in the Villager Flowers & Gifts on Broadway Avenue and experience one of their tasty milk shakes or flavored cokes. Stay at the Park View Inn & Suites, a 36-unit facility with an indoor pool. Ask about their theme rooms and make a reservation by calling (515) 887-3611. West Bend has several gift shops and eating establishments as well. For a complete business listing and additional information about West Bend visit www.westbendiowa.com or call (515) 887-2181.

Works Cited