West Bend Community
The present site of the town of West Bend was first settled by Jeremiah Kelly of Ruthven and a young man named Jones. Mr. Kelly built the first frame house in the township on the east side of the river.
A post office had been established at the Carter cabin on the south bank of the river where there was a sharp turn to the west. This gave the name West Bend to the township and when the B., C. R. & N. Ry. was built in the fall of 1881, the people of West Bend township voted a five percent tax on condition that the company would locate a depot in the township. The railroad tried to get the tax and at the same time miss the township, but finally located a station just inside the township line and named it Ives after the president of the road.
The people of the township wanted the name West Bend and A.B. Carter met Col. Dows, one of the main officials of the road, at Capt. Soper's office in Emmetsburg and asked him to change the name of the town to West Bend, which he finally consented to do. This was before there was a single house built on the proposed town site.
The building of the railroad brought with it the shanties of the construction gangs, and a shanty saloon, with a beer keg for a chimney, was hastily constructed east of the right of way. The first permanent building was a companion for the shanty and was built by Jack Gallegher as a saloon in order to accommodate the thirsty toilers on the construction work. This building was located where Mikes Bros.' meat market now stands and was completed in the in the old Steiner building in 1882 and the first sermon delivered in the town was preached by Rev. Brooks of Livermore.
History of Palo Alto County - Dwight G. McCarty ©1910. Provided Courtesy of The Reporter.
Today, West Bend's slogan "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 (800) 868-3641. 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. The restored Country Schoolhouse and Post Office along with the Museum are all open for tours. Contact the Historical Society at (515) 200-9234. Stay at the Park View Inn & Suites and Conference Center, a 36-unit facility with an indoor pool, whirlpool, sauna and fitness room. Call (877) 612-5366 to make your reservation. West Bend has several gift shops and eating establishments as well. Additional information about West Bend can be obtained by calling (515) 887-2181 or visit www.westbendiowa.com.