A Rock-Solid Community
Established in 1856 and incorporated in 1884, West Bend is located in two counties—Kossuth and Palo Alto—in the center of a vast, lush, level expanse of Iowa farmland northwest of Fort Dodge midway between state highways 18 and 20. West Bend was named for the sharp turn the Des Moines River makes toward the west at a point southwest of the town. On most road maps, West Bend is marked as the site of the Grotto of the Redemption—the world’s largest grotto. Frequently called “The Eighth Wonder of the World,” the Grotto represents the largest collection of minerals, petrified rocks, precious stones and gems concentrated in any one spot in the world. The Grotto of the Redemption is a composite of nine separate grottos, each portraying a scene in the life of Christ.
West Bend features other historically interesting sites including a restored school house, post office, and sod house. An old-fashioned soda fountain, located in The Villager, serves visitors 1930s-styled malted milks, milk shakes, and cherry, lemon and lime cokes. Num-num!