It’s no secret that Iowa is full of offbeat attractions and over the years, I’ve visited quite a few. But somehow I’d always missed out on Matchstick Marvels in Gladbrook, Iowa.
Over the past 39 years, Iowa artist Patrick Acton has transformed more than 4 million matchsticks into 65 pieces of unique art. From the U.S. Capitol building to the Hogwarts castle from Harry Potter, Matchstick Marvels offers a treasure trove of stunning sculptures sure to leave you in awe of Acton’s craft.
Fun fact: Ripley’s Believe It or Not has purchased more than 20 of the matchstick models, which are now on view all over the world.
For the $5 admission fee ($3 for kids ages 5 – 12), visitors are treated to a wide variety of Acton’s impressive sculptures. We happened to visit last month while Acton’s latest creation—a two-headed dragon that moves and glows red—was still on view. Comprised of roughly 272,000 matchsticks, Acton began building the dragon in July 2015 and completed the 2,000-hour project this April.
Matchstick Marvels, 319 2nd Street in Gladbrook, Iowa