Unexpected Surprises in 2018

Shrine of the Grotto of the Redemption

View of the main grotto and the grotto complex, with the local Catholic church in the background.

On my road trip in July/August 2018, I looked for rural backroads attractions off the main tourist routes. The Shrine of the Grotto of the Redemption in West Bend, Iowa was a fabulous find, even though it took me well out of my way on a day my final destination was Minneapolis, Minnesota. Regardless of your religious affiliation or lack thereof, it is a fascinating place just in terms of its construction and materials.

Father Paul Dobberstein, a German immigrant, began construction of the grotto in 1912 and continued building for 42 years. He collected materials for 14 years before beginning construction. According to iowabeautiful.com, the Grotto is “a complex of nine different grottos in West Bend, Iowa, each one portraying a different scene from the life of Christ. The fourteen Stations of the Cross are also depicted. The grottos were built using stones and gems from all over the world. It was started in 1912 and now covers nearly a whole city block. The materials used in its construction are considered to be the world’s most complete man-made collection of minerals, fossils, shells, and petrifications in one place.”

Rocks, Minerals, Gem Stones, Shells, Fossils, and More

The vast collection of minerals and semi-precious stones used in the Grotto’s construction include petrified wood, crystals, malachite, azurite, agates, geodes, jasper, quartz, topaz, calcite, stalactites and stalagmites, shells, turquoise, and coral.  Father Dobberstein and his assistant, Matt Szerensce, spent countless hours sorting and arranging the materials into harmonious units. Until 1946, when an electric hoist was put into use, all construction and lifting was done by hand. Construction continued after Father Dobberstein’s death in 1954.

The Grotto is on the National Register of Historic Places. It is the largest man-made grotto in the world and contains the largest collection of precious stones and gems in one location. The statues found throughout the complex, including the replica of Michelangelo’s Pieta on the summit, are carved from Italian marble

Stations of the Cross

Pink It Is #3

Grotto Pink

Rose Quartz, Grotto of the Redeemer, West Bend, Iowa

Wall detail from one of the circular stairs leading to the upper levels of the Grotto of the Redeemer, West Bend, Iowa. In addition to rose quartz, you can also see the use of crystals, geodes, saltwater shells, and minerals (turquoise).

Join BeckyB’s Square in September: In the Pink. Photos must be square, and for September, have to contain something pink. See this link for more information on how to take part in BeckyB’s quarterly square challenge..

Backroads America: Grotto of the Redemption

Holy Row

Stations of the Cross, Grotto of the Redemption, West Bend, Iowa

Stations of the Cross, Grotto of the Redemption, West Bend, Iowa

If you are ever near West Bend, Iowa, you must try to visit the Grotto of the Redemption. It is a worthwhile detour, regardless of your religious affiliation or lack thereof.  Father Paul Dobberstein, a German immigrant, began construction of the grotto in 1912 and continued building for 42 years.  He collected materials for years before beginning construction. According to iowabeautiful.com, the Grotto is “a complex of nine different grottos in West Bend, Iowa, each one portraying a different scene from the life of Christ. The fourteen Stations of the Cross are also depicted. The grottos were built using stones and gems from all over the world. It was started in 1912 and now covers nearly a whole city block. The materials used in its construction are considered to be the world’s most complete man-made collection of minerals, fossils, shells, and petrifications in one place.”

I will have a longer post about the Grotto soon.

Prairie Clouds

Near the border of Iowa and Minnesota. Clouds in the Midwest are the best.

Backroads America: Wind in the Corn

Pocahontas, Pocahontas County, Iowa

I took a detour from my destination to check out a couple places in Iowa. Just south of the town of Pocahontas, I saw a huge wind farm with hundreds of turbines planted in corn fields.

My destination was the 25 foot statue of Pocahontas which was erected in 1954 in Pocahontas.

The historical Pocahontas was from Virginia, not Iowa, but the town wanted to honor the figure after which it, and the county, was named.

Pocahontas is in Iowa corn country. You will find quilt squares painted on barns and garages.

The teepee behind the statue is based on a plains Indian dwelling. Pocahontas would not have lived in one.

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