Sunday, August 1, 2010


In the movie Field of Dreams, Kevin Costner see a ghostly figure emerge from a corn field. The man asks "Is this heaven?" and Costner says "No, it's Iowa."

As you look at this first image you might wonder what part of the world this church is located. Believe it or not, it's Iowa.

In 1912, a Catholic priest arrived at a tiny Iowa town. He had survived a serious illness and kept his promise to the Blessed Mother to build a shrine in Her honor.

One thing sort of lead to another and 80 years later the world famous Grotto of the Redemption was finished.

The grotto, which is actually nine shrines, is made up of rocks from all over the world and all 50 of the United States. This area sets out the Stations of the Cross.

How 'bout this for a restroom sign?

Here's the snake from the Garden of Eden.

Throughout the grotto there are several beautiful hand carved statutes. These come from Italy and were each made especially for this grotto. Here is the Angel who banishes Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden.

Moses with the Ten Commandments is also here.

These photographs cannot begin to do justice to the real thing.

See the large ball? That is actually a rock that started out as a large ball of mud in South Dakota.

In a separate building there is a display of all the various rocks used to create the grotto and where each is from.

These few images give you just a glimpse of what some people call the Eighth Wonder of the World. And this is located in an out-of-the-way tiny town on the prairies of Iowa.

Sometimes the greatest wonders are in your own back yard. Most likely only a very small percentage of Iowans have visited this place. And that is too bad.

Thanks for stopping by.


A Lady's Life said...

Wow!! Such a secret treasure in Iowa!!! Have to see this. Very nice!!

Jo said...

Russell, this is absolutely wonderful...! I love the snake.

When I think of Iowa, I certainly don't think of something like this. The 8th Wonder of the World, indeed. Incredible...!

Marge said...

I've been there. Beautiful spot, and so unexpected in Iowa. But then, it's almost heaven!

Thanks for the's been a long time since I've been there.

Snappy Di said...

I grew up in Whittemore, only 8 miles away from West Bend and the Grotto. Visited many times as a child. It's gorgeous and you are right. It is too bad that more have not visited it.


Pauline said...

Amazing what inspired (and grateful) men can accomplish.

Small City Scenes said...

Wow that is totally amazing. One would never imagine such a sight.
I find all the rocks amazing too.
I am glad you showed this as I would have never known.
I hope more people go there now. MB

Barbara said...

How do they manage to pay for the upkeep of a place like this that is so far off the beaten path?

Russell said...

Thanks for all your comments.

Barbara, I think the costs are fairly minimal and the grotto is, I believe, owned and maintained by the church.

In reality, it is a small operation. Two priests and one assistant did most of the work over the 80 some years. It is really a place embraced by the entire community and they do have volunteers that work there as well as a small paid staff.

They do have a gift shop and they have donation boxes scattered around. You do see chartered buses in the parking lot - so that helps get people to this place.

Most people arrive in car. Two, three, four people at a time. It is never crowded at the grotto and that is a good thing. But it is open year round and seems to have a steady flow of people.

What is that expression? If you build it, they will come? I think that's it!

Take care.

Small City Scenes said...

Russell, thanks for the comment on my blog. We had the same attitude about FFAers too. funny huh! I was a 4H leader for 15years and it was lots of fun. We did mostly horse stuff and some art---well whoever was artistic. LOL.
This fair is very nice--no rides no midway just a small town fair.
This coming up weekend (6-7-8) is the Stanwood-Camano Community fair touted as the Biggest Little Fair in the West. I have two photos entered. It is all about 4H and farm stuff too. MB

willow said...

Strange and wonderful! In Iowa, eh? Who knew?

heartinsanfrancisco said...

My goodness, this is incredible. Simply beautiful! Now I have yet another reason to visit Iowa - it has long been my dream to attend the famous Writers' Workshop in Iowa City.