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Friday, July 5, 2013

Diversion III – Dickeyville Grotto

Our North Woods destinations usually take us due north into the Driftless Region, crossing the Mississippi River at the old city of Dubuque, Iowa (founded 1765) and through nearby Dickeyville, Wisconsin. Here stand a Grotto and Shrines conceived and constructed nearly a century ago by a tireless parish priest.
"[O]n Holy Ghost Parish grounds are the works of Father Matthias Wernerus, a Catholic Priest, Pastor of the Parish from 1918 to 1931. His handiwork in stone, built from 1925-1930, is dedicated to the unity of two great American ideals — love of God and love of Country. These religious and patriotic shrines were constructed without the use of blueprints."
Alan and Donna consult with the docent and prepare to enter the central maw.

A staggering quantity of colored stone was donated to the work from quarries in the Dakotas, from Iowa, and nearby in Wisconsin. The stones and shells and glass and all else are attached expertly and almost invisibly with very little obvious weathering or aging. The docent told us that when pieces come loose or fall away, they are very quickly reattached.

It is a relaxing and contemplative place.

The constructions include huge pieces of petrified wood, such as this incredible specimen.

The fencing and railing were especially impressive from an engineering standpoint – very stiff concrete constructions for being so slender, and with so little spalling at the many sharp edges. That priest had a good sense of strength and proportion.

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