The 1995 movie, The Bridges of Madison County, set right here in Madison County, Iowa, kindled a spark in Americans for a romantic love affair with bridges. After all, there are bridges that connect gaps in relationships, there are natural bridges created by nature, and then there are man-made bridges that have stood the test of time. Many historical bridges have connected communities and neighbors for decades or more. These four historical covered bridges in Madison County are the perfect setting for an afternoon drive.
- Cedar Bridge: Cedar Bridge is located three miles northeast of Winterset off State Hwy 92, in a park setting in Madison County. The original bridge, built in 1883, was destroyed by a fire in 2002. Funds were raised to construct an exact replica on the site. Automobiles may pull through the covered bridge. The park contains a Victorian gazebo, flower garden, and picnic area. The site has been the location for many weddings and Oprah Winfrey aired her show from the location in 1993. Autumn is a beautiful time to visit the park, especially the weekend of the annual festival every October.
- Cutler-Donahoe Bridge: Southeast of Winterset near the interchange of Hwy 92 and Interstate Hwy I-35, sits the Cutler-Donahoe Bridge. The 79-foot long bridge is covered, made with wood truss, and a has pitched roof. It was constructed in 1870 in Bevington, Iowa, The bridge expanded exploration of the North River and was then moved 100 years later to Winterset City Park. The bridge underwent renovations in 1997 at a cost of $35,538. Winterset City Park boasts a campground with both primitive tent sites and full hook-up campsites as well.
- Imes Bridge: The Imes Bridge is located off I-35 in St. Charles, Iowa. The bridge is the oldest existing bridge in Madison County. The original bridge was completed in 1870, but moved seven years later just southwest of Hanley to Clinton Creek. The bridge was moved again ninty years later to the current location. A total of $31,807 was spent on renovations for the bridge in 1997. The National Registry of Historic Places recognized this bridge in 2008.
- Roseman Bridge: Legends claim the Roseman Bridge is haunted. The story behind the claim is that a prisoner from the local jail escaped. It goes on to say that the sheriff’s office trapped the prisoner on the bridge. They say the prisoner screamed and simultaneously rose through the roof of the bridge, never to be seen again. This is the bridge made famous by Robert James Waller’s novel The Bridges of Madison County. The 107-foot long bridge was constructed in 1883 by Benton Jones. The bridge sits in its original location in Winterset. Over $150,000 worth of renovations were completed on the bridge in 1992.
(Photo is courtesy of Cutler-Donahoe Bridge as uploaded by Phil Roeder at Flickr’s Creative Commons.)