World's Smallest Church
Excerpts from Roadchick K:
The World’s Smallest Church is one of those roadside treasures. This particular treasure was along a bumpy, dirt, back road. I should say in Iowa’s defense that every road seems to be lovingly maintained even the dirt roads. We soon discovered that unlike the back roads of the East Coast where your car would be thrown around the road for daring to travel over 15 MPH, an easy 35 MPH was accomplished on these roads.
While completely off any form of a “well beaten path” this site wasn’t hard to find. But like the beautiful Roadside Attraction that it is, the guest book revealed visitors from all over the world who came to appreciate this unique site. There are many contestants for “The World’s Smallest Church” and this one doesn’t quite win, but nonetheless it’s worth the stop.
The sanctuary is indeed tiny, but holds all of the necessary accoutrements that you would see in a church. In fact, services apparently are still held here once a year to honor St. Anthony of Padua, the church’s namesake.
The church has an interesting founding. The builder/creator of the church, Johann Gaertner, was drafted in the Napoleonic wars when he was 16 years old. His mother made a promise to God to build a church to Mary if he came home safely. Johan made it home safely, but didn’t fulfill his mother’s promise until the ripe old age of 92. There are of course many more details to the story and if you’re interested they are covered nicely at this web site: http://iagenweb.org/winneshiek/smallestchurch.htm.
We would definitely recommend this site to the road weary traveler who was looking for a little solitude and a beautiful spot for a picnic.