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West Bend, Iowa
Motto(s): 
"A Rock Solid Community"
Location of West Bend, Iowa
Location of West Bend, Iowa
Country  United States
State  Iowa
Counties Palo Alto, Kossuth
Area
 • Total 0.89 sq mi (2.31 km2)
 • Land 0.89 sq mi (2.31 km2)
 • Water 0 sq mi (0 km2)
Elevation
1,191 ft (363 m)
Population
 (2010)
 • Total 785
 • Estimate 
(2012)
781
 • Density 882.0/sq mi (340.5/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
50597
Area code(s) 515
FIPS code 19-83550
GNIS feature ID 0465615
Website City of West Bend, Iowa

West Bend is a city in Kossuth and Palo Alto (originally) counties in the U.S. state of Iowa. The population was 785 at the 2010 census.

History

West Bend had its start in the early 1880s by the building of the Burlington, Cedar Rapids and Northern Railway through that territory. It was originally called Ives after the president of the railroad, but the townspeople had it changed to West Bend from the bend in the river. West Bend (aka Ives) was the first town in Palo Alto County. A special five cent tax to build a railroad station was promised to the railroad if they would create a stop when the railroad was built. The railroad did that placing the line and the new station in West Bend.

Geography

The village straddles the county line, in the southwest part of Kossuth County and the southeast part of Palo Alto County, in northwestern Iowa. But, it was first in Palo Alto County.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 0.89 square miles (2.31 km2), all land.

West Bend is served by a lightly-used former branch line of the Rock Island Railroad now owned by the Union Pacific Railroad.

Demographics

Historical populations
Year Pop. ±%
1890 325 —    
1900 538 +65.5%
1910 679 +26.2%
1920 969 +42.7%
1930 634 −34.6%
1940 737 +16.2%
1950 772 +4.7%
1960 910 +17.9%
1970 865 −4.9%
1980 941 +8.8%
1990 862 −8.4%
2000 834 −3.2%
2010 785 −5.9%
2014 762 −2.9%
2015 759 −0.4%
Source: and Iowa Data Center
Source:
U.S. Decennial Census

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 785 people, 360 households, and 213 families residing in the city. The population density was 882.0 inhabitants per square mile (340.5/km2). There were 396 housing units at an average density of 444.9 per square mile (171.8/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 99.1% White, 0.1% Native American, and 0.8% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.4% of the population.

There were 360 households of which 20.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.7% were married couples living together, 4.4% had a female householder with no husband present, 3.1% had a male householder with no wife present, and 40.8% were non-families. 38.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 23.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.07 and the average family size was 2.71.

The median age in the city was 51.6 years. 18.1% of residents were under the age of 18; 7.4% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 15.5% were from 25 to 44; 26.8% were from 45 to 64; and 32.2% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 46.4% male and 53.6% female.

2000 census

At the 2000 census, there were 834 people, 352 households and 210 families residing in the city. The population density was 943.3 people per square mile (365.9/km²). There were 379 housing units at an average density of 428.7 per square mile (166.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 99.40% White, 0.12% Native American, 0.12% Asian, and 0.36% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.48% of the population.

There were 352 households of which 25.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.8% were married couples living together, 3.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.1% were non-families. 37.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 24.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.21 and the average family size was 2.95.

Age distribution was 22.1% under the age of 18, 6.0% from 18 to 24, 20.5% from 25 to 44, 20.6% from 45 to 64, and 30.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 46 years. For every 100 females there were 86.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.6 males.

The median household income was $31,711, and the median family income was $40,455. Males had a median income of $31,083 versus $20,000 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,804. About 4.1% of families and 6.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.8% of those under age 18 and 7.2% of those age 65 or over.

Attractions

Grotto of the Redemption South
Grotto of the Redemption

West Bend is the site of the Grotto of the Redemption, a series of nine contiguous grottos occupying a full city block, constructed of minerals, petrifications, and semiprecious gems. The Grotto of the Redemption is the inspiration and life work of Fr. Paul Dobberstein (1872-1954), a Catholic priest who settled in West Bend around 1902. For a decade he gathered rocks and precious and semi-precious stones from around the world beginning construction in 1912. For the next 42 years, Fr. Dobberstein created hundreds of intricate rock settings that form the Grotto’s walls and ceilings, evoking a spiritual experience. Matt Szerensce, a parishioner, and Fr. Louis Greving, the next Catholic pastor in West Bend, worked side-by-side with Fr. Dobberstein and furthered the work of Fr. Dobberstein after his death in 1954. Although the Grotto was technically finished in the late 1980, the Grotto is an ongoing work with restorations and repairs made yearly and there are still some statues that need to be purchased to complete certain scenes throughout the Grotto. The Grotto is non-profit and relies solely on donations for its maintenance and repair work.

The Grotto of the Redemption is the largest man-made grotto in the world and has an estimated 25-30 thousand visitors a year. The nine separate grottoes each depict a scene in the life of Jesus of Nazareth or of the testament of God. The theme of Redemption gives unity to this sacred space. Although the Grotto was built by a Catholic priest, Fr. Dobberstein, who was an avid rock hound, wanted the Grotto to be "non-denominational" or for all religions to appreciate and enjoy. His hope was to have the Grotto speak to all through the natural beauty of the stones and their arrangements.

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