Dec 15

Bridges of Madison County – Iowa

Bridges of Madison CountyI have been trying to get Karen to see the covered bridges of Madison County in Iowa for a few years now, and she finally agreed to go over our Thanksgiving weekend.  The reason that I wanted her to see the bridges was two-fold, I like the history of buildings, all of them originally built before 1885, and the romanticism of yesteryear. 
Inside the Covered Bridge

The covered bridges are located near the town of Winterset just south of Des Moines.  Karen and I had a very busy day when we toured the bridges.  We had already spent the morning going to the Neal Smith Wildlife Refuge then went back to Des Moines to see the Blank Park Zoo and finished our day by seeing the seven covered bridges that are near Winterset before we drove back to my parent’s house in the northeastern part of Kansas.  Karen and I reached Winterset a little after two, grabbed a quick bite to eat and set off to see the bridges.  We do not recommend that you see them all in one afternoon because it is hard to appreciate them in that manner. 
Hogback Bridge 2

The first bridge that we saw was the Imes Bridge.  The Imes Bridge is just east of the small town of St. Charles.  The reason that we arrived at this bridge first is because we missed our turn on I-35.  Luckily for us after we saw the bridge there was a sign that pointed us in the direction of the St. Charles visitor center where we were able to pick up a handy little map that showed us exactly how to get to all of the bridges in the area.  The Imes Bridge is the oldest of the bridges being built in 1870.  Karen was a little confused because the bridge did not cross anything.  It was explained to her by the handout that we got at the visitor center.  This bridge once crossed Middle River but in 1977 it was moved to its current location. 
Imes Bridge

The next bridge we went to was the Roseman Covered Bridge.  In my opinion, it is the prettiest of the covered bridges in the area.  The Roseman Bridge is 107 feet in length and was originally built in 1883.  It was renovated in the early 1990s and despite the graffiti of the “Parkman family was here” or “Susie and Johnny Forever” (made up names but you get the idea) it is really good shape. 
Roseman Bridge

Karen and I next saw the Hogback and Cedar bridges.  They are both north of Winterset.  The Hogback Bridge was built in 1884 and renovated in 1992.  It is close to 100 feet in length.  The Cedar Bridge is very unique because it is the only one that you can drive through, which can be a little nerve racking.  In my mind’s eye I was picturing the movie Funny Farm where the movers are trying to cross a covered bridge.  We made it without a hitch.  Probably because the Cedar bridge was destroyed by arson in 2002 and the one you can drive across today was built in 2004.    
Hogback Bridge

Cedar Bridge Framed

The last two bridges are just east of Winterset.  The Cutler-Donahoe Covered Bridge is just on the eastern outskirts of the town in the City Park.  It is 79 feet long that originally spanned the North River near Bevington but it has been in Winterset’s City Park since 1970.   The last bridge that we saw was the Holliwell Bridge which is the longest covered bridge at 122 feet.  After the Holliwell Bridge the sun had pretty much set and Karen and I started on our way back to my parent’s home. 
Cutler-Donahoe Bridge

We recommend going to see the covered bridges of Madison County.  It is really a neat to see a part of history and craftsmanship of a bygone age.  I do not recommend going and seeing it in an afternoon like Karen and I did, but it is doable that way.  We had a lot of fun seeing the covered bridges, hopefully we will be able to see them again at a better time of year like the spring or fall and not be in such a rush next time.
Holliwell Bridge

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  1. Cpl. James C. Bliss

    I married a lady from maxburg,Iowa. I have seen the bridge’s in the winter and summer and fall. I like them best when the snow is on them. I have been there for the covered bridge fest. We also have a covered bridge fest. Same time it is held in Winterset,in ashtabula county ,Ohio.They do not block off any town , everything is held at the county fair grounds. I hope sometime you will come to ashtabula,county Ohio to see ours.I enjoy Clark’s tower

    1. Kenny and Karen

      Wow, that sounds like it would be so much fun! We will have to add it to our travel bucket list. We have never seen the bridges in the snow but can imagine they would be breath taking. Thanks for the comment 🙂

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