Seek and Ye Shall Find An Inspiring Wisconsin Roadside Attraction
I was headed to a cousin's wedding reception in southwest Wisconsin a few Saturdays ago. Somehow, I missed my turn and wound my way around town only to face the World Famous Dickeyville Grotto.
I do recall requesting to stop on family trips to Potosi & Tennyson. Still, it occurred to me that I had been driving past the Grotto my entire life and had no accurate recollection of ever stopping to see it.
I typically try to live in the moment and let the path unfold before me. So, I pulled over and got out to take a look with plenty of time before the wedding reception. I was soon grateful to discover a unique yet fun roadside religious experience at the nearly 100-year-old Grotto.
Somewhere in the deep recesses of my mind, I know I must have visited the Grotto as a young child.
The Dickeyville Grotto and Shrines are the works of Father Matthis Wernerus, the Holy Ghost parish pastor from 1918 to 1931.
Inspired by a love of God and Country, Father Wernerus left no stone unturned when he undertook the five-year project from 1925 to 1930.
The shrine's overall construction struck me. While nowhere near the scale and stature, I was reminded of Barcelona's beautiful Parc Güell, designed by renowned architect Antoni Gaudí.
Still, the Dickeville Grotto is a fantastic creation of stone, mortar, and a collection of brightly colored objects. Combined, it creates a fascinating and fun artistic and spiritual expression and an inspiring roadside attraction.
Several shrines in the Grotto garden reflect patriotism, sacraments & saints themes, each worthy of a close look to study the detail and thoughtful work of Father Wernerus nearly a century ago.
Broken pottery, glass, gems, sea shells, corals, metals, crystals, petrified wood, and green moss create a spectacular and inspiring sight.
There are several shrines to see, and the entire Grotto is dedicated to the virtues of religion and patriotism. Spend a little time seeing how the meticulous stone, shell, and colorful placements create exciting and intricate patterns.
Open daily for walking tours throughout the year; there is no specific fee to enter. Still, all donations are appreciated and used for the upkeep of the Grotto and grounds.
The site is handicap accessible, and guided tours are available Jun-Aug 11:00 am - 4:00 pm (daily) and Sept-Oct 10:00 am - 3:00 pm (weekends only)
There is also a gift shop on site with varying hours throughout the year.
Spring: 10:00 am - 3:00 pm (April-May)
Summer: 9:00 am - 4:00 pm (Memorial Day - Labor Day)
Fall: 10:00 am - 3:00 pm (Sept-Oct)
Located less than a 15-minute drive from Dubuque, The DIckeyville Grotto and Shrine is on Highway 61 and the Wisconsin Great River Road.
For more information, visit DickeyvilleGrotto.com.