Grotto Of The Redemption! The Magical Mermaid Palace On Land
MIDWEST ROAD TRIP GOLD
Bean & I recently took a longggg road trip through Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota and Nebraska. We drove 2,800 miles in 6 days. I don’t recommend this, however. Once I was home I had a bad tummy for days.. I think from sitting in the car too much. I had bumps, bruises, and my nose bled for a month. No joke. Bean & I ran ourselves ragged. In hindsight I’d want about 3 weeks to do what we did, but I also wouldn’t take it back either. Seize the day, make the most of whatever time you can get off work, and sleep when you’re dead. 😉 I had two standout favorite locations on this trip. First was Badlands National Park in South Dakota. And a close second, is this strange religious shrine in rural Iowa called Grotto of the Redemption.
West Bend, Iowa has a population of under 800 people. Grotto of the Redemption is pretty much its claim to fame. It sees somewhere in the neighborhood of 100,000 visitors each year, but somehow Bean and I were lucky enough to arrive at the grotto and have it all to ourselves.
Pictures come nowhere close to doing this place justice. It is built from top to bottom out of millions of fossils, shells, minerals, rocks, and crystals. The value of all the rocks and minerals combined is over 4 million dollars.
IOWA’S OTHER FIELD OF DREAMS
Grotto of the Redemption was dreamed up by a German man named Father Paul Dobberstein. Poor Father Paul almost died of pneumonia, and in the midst of this he made a promise to the Virgin Mary that he would build her a shrine if she stepped in and saved his life. After he pulled through, he collected pretty materials for the shrine for 10 years. Construction began in 1912, and Father Paul continued year-round for 42 years. FORTY TWO YEARS. Father Paul was oooone dedicated pneumonia survivor.
Father Paul Dobberstein’s right hand man in the construction was Matt Szerensce. All said, Matt Szerensce worked on the grotto for 52 years. WHAT. When Father Dobberstein died in 1954, the grotto had grown to the size of a city block. After that, a man named Father Louis Greving was sent to West Bend to take over Father Dobberstein’s clerical and grotto building duties. For the next 50 years Father Greving would continue to build and care for the Grotto of the Redemption.
I know I just told you that 3 different men put in a combined 150 years of continuous labor to bring this place to life, but once you see it in person, you’ll wonder how it didn’t take longer.
I found myself feeling jealous of the people who live in the vicinity.. They are so lucky to be able to see this place whenever they want. West Bend is located in North West-ish, Iowa. From Sioux City, and from Des Moines it’s about a 2 hour and 20 minute drive.
Grotto of the Redemption is open to the public 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It also has a gift shop that’s open every day from 10am to 5pm.
So definitely take time out of your midwest road trip to see this place. It’s sparkly and spectacular and you’ll never forget it. 🙂
INFO TIME ↓
Grotto of the Redemption • 300 N Broadway • West Bend, Iowa 50597 • Grotto of the Redemption’s website