Bridges of Madison County

October 11-14, 2017

Now we’re on the way to Iowa.  It was going to be a pass-through state, but we stopped at the cute little visitor’s center and picked up brochures.  I found one for the covered bridges in Madison County.  That’s in Iowa!?  And the annual covered bridge festival is THIS weekend!  Well that changes everything and we have to go.  The schedule is flexible, so we just adjust and point Lucy in the direction of Winterset, IA.


Iowa visitor’s center.  How cute is that?

Criss Cove County Park

I called ahead as we drove trying to get reservations, but both the city and state parks were all full.  They recommended a nearby county park that was first come-first served.  Our next stop wasn’t too far away, but we decided to just keep on driving and get all the way there to snag a mid-week spot.  Sometimes you have to drive more than 200 miles in one day.  Whew!


This is the view at Criss Cove.  A nice quiet little place, likely built before bigger RVs.  There were only two other people there, so we had our pick of places.  Our only issue here was the big sneaky tree branch that scratched the entire passenger side of Lucy on the way in.  Ouch!  It was either that or drive into a pretty big washout off the road.  That’ll buff right out we said.

A few more Criss Cove views.

Bridges of Madison County

I was so excited to learn that Winterset, Iowas is indeed the home of the famous bridges of Madison County and where they filmed the movie starring Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood.  Funny thing.  Neither Pat nor I have seen the movie, but I do love covered bridges, so off we go on the driving tour.


The Roseman Bridge is the most famous one and favors heavily in the movie.  We visited this one first.  There are a total of six remaining covered bridges in the area where there was once as many as 19.

On the drive what do we see?  Corn, corn, corn.  That comes to mind first when I think of Iowa.  Most of the corn around here is left to dry out completely before being harvested for use in animal feed.  I did manage to find a few yellow kernels peeking out of the dry husk.


Bridge #2 on our drive was the Cutler-Donahue Bridge and is in the middle of Winterset’s city park.  The historical plaque noted that the bridges were often named for the closest residents.  Both the Cutler and Donahue families claimed naming rights on this one.


Across from the Cutler-Donahue was the Rotary hedge maze.  We had some fun with Jackson inside this one.  I ran ahead, kept calling him, and they gave chase.  That is until I took a wrong turn down a dead end.  Momma has been found!

Jackson and I were like trolls under the rock bridge across from the hedge maze.


Clark Tower is also in the city park.  So picturesque and peaceful.  It was erected in 1926 and stands as a monument to Winterset’s first pioneer family.  It’s made of native limestone with Middle River valley views from the top.

Jackson couldn’t climb the slick stone steps, so we took turns at the top.

Ok, so four more bridges to see and some are miles out of town.  We ditch Jackson back at the motorhome and continue our quest.


#3 is Hogback Bridge named for a nearby ridge.


#4 is Holliwell.  This one is the longest at 122 feet.


And the Middle River view from the Holliwell Bridge.


The saddest one is what remains of the Cedar Covered Bridge, and #5 on our tour.  This one was destroyed by arson in 2002 and rebuilt only to be destroyed by arson a second time in April of this year.  Fundraising is underway so it can be rebuilt again.  This is the one we could have driven across if not for the fire.


Bridge #6 is the Imes Bridge and the oldest of the bunch.  Built in 1870, it was moved twice to end up in it’s current home in St. Charles.  This one was a bit of a drive, but I was determined to see all 6.  It’s different than the others with a white front and back and different latticework on the inside.


The little town of Winterset turned out to be filled with fascinating history and connections to multiple movies and famous people.  ‘Cold Turkey’, a Dick Van Dyke flick was filmed here along with ‘The Bridges of Madison County’.  Pat has a hazy memory of ‘Cold Turkey’.  I’ve never seen either one.

As for the famous people, John Wayne was born here.


This statue was outside the John Wayne Birthplace & Museum.  His boyhood home was right around the corner and in case you didn’t know, he was born Marion Robert Morrison.  We’re not particular John Wayne buffs, so decided to skip that entrance fee.  Of course everyone seems to have a favorite John Wayne movie.  Mine is Hatari.  I can just hear that Baby Elephant Walk song.  Mom & Dad had the soundtrack album and I liked playing that one.

I was really intrigued by the other famous person we read about from Winterset.  George L. Stout was a museum director and art conservation specialist.  I know, you’re thinking – boring.  But, did you happen to see the movie ‘The Monument’s Men’?  Well, George Clooney’s character is based loosely on Mr. Stout who joined the army and personally supervised the removal of thousands of art works during World War II.  Quite a remarkable life saving priceless art on the front lines.  Not so boring after all.


It was just the cutest little place with an old-fashioned town square and beautiful old courthouse.  Reminded me of the one from my old hometown in DeLand, FL.  Also lots of restaurants and they do serve Bud.  This truck reminded us of our visit to the Clydesdales earlier in the year.

We ended up extending our stay here by one day to catch the yearly Bridges of Madison County Festival, but the weather was horrid.  It rained buckets most of the day and I felt bad for the place.  Fortunately we did our touring and browsing the few days before, so we didn’t feel like we really missed out.  One extra day was all we could spare.  We’ve set out sights on Springfield, MO again and have reservations.  See you on the way!


6 thoughts on “Bridges of Madison County

  1. Love the photos (as always!). Such interesting sites and places that I hadn’t really thought about. I love how you two ferret out these really neat facts that bring the sights and area alive in your posts. (Not that they aren’t ‘alive’!) It is always a treat to read about all of these spots that you too visit! I confess to saving time to read the blog posts with my morning coffee.


    • Thanks Iris! Glad you are still following along. I’ve gotten long-winded lately, so suspect people are using the skim method. Ha! You’ll have some coffee reading coming up since I’ve got a few more posts out there. Finally caught up!


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