Cerro Gordo


  • The City of Mason City (pop. 27,430 ) is home to the last remaining Frank Lloyd Wright Hotel in the world (the Historic Park Inn) and the frist Grammy ever awarded (to native son Meredith Wilson for The Music Man ).  The Grammy is located at Music Man Square, which features an indoor 1912 streetscape with set designs from the musical.
  • Mason City is also home to the Rock Crest-Rock Glen National Historic District, the nation's most compact grouping of Prairie School buildings unified around a common natural setting: the rocky bluffs and verdant glen on opposite banks of Willow Creek.  Starting in 1908, the initial design  of Rock Crest-Rock Glen, and its primary architecture, was developed by famous architect Walter Burley Griffin and his wife, Marion Mahony Griffin.  The Griffins later won the competition in 1912 to design Australia's capital city, Canberra. 
  • On February 3, 1959, a Beechcraft Bonanza carrying Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper,  who had been performing at the Surf Ballroom in the City of   Clear Lake (pop. 7, 589) took off from the local runway in nearby Mason City.  The plane crashed soon after takeoff, killing all aboard.  This event was later eulogized by folk singer Don McLean in this famous song "American Pie", in which the death of these '50's icons serves as a metaphor for greater changes within American society as a whole.  The historic Surf Ballroom still has concerts for a large variety of world-famous musical artists and can be reserved as a convention hall or reception site.  It is also a tourist attraction, and every February hosts a popular tribute to the three musicians.
  • Every year, Clear Lake hosts the largest winter kite festival in the Midwest.  During the event, kite flyers from a 10-state area fill the skies over the frozen waters of Clear Lake.

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