The Bridges of Madison County
Madison County originally boasted 19 covered bridges, but just six remain today, all of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The bridges were covered by order of the County Board of Supervisors to help preserve the large flooring timbers, which were more expensive to replace than the lumber used to cover the bridge sides and roof. Usually, the bridges were named for the resident who lived closest.
3 Options for Touring the Bridges
1) Self-Guided Tours
The covered bridges are open to the public. Travelers can use the below detailed map to do a self-guided tour of the structures at any time. A map may also be picked up at the Madison County Visitors Center, 73 Jefferson Street, Winterset, IA which is located on the Northeast corner of the Courthouse Square.
Find a map of the bridges (Here)
2) Two Hour Personal Tours (Step-on guided)
Personal tours are available all year around. The cost is $50 for a two hour tour, and you must have room for the step-on guide to ride in your vehicle. Tours begin and end at the Madison County Visitors Center, 73 Jefferson Street, Winterset. Tours may be booked ($15 non-refundable deposit - balance of $35 paid on day of tour) by emailing email@example.com or calling 515-462-1185.
3) Large (25+) Group Tours
Group tours are also available for $8.00-10.00 per person, depending on the length of the tour. Please click here for those details Group Tours.
CLICK HERE to visit John A. Weeks III's website for additional photography and information pertaining to the Bridges of Madison County, Iowa.
Roseman Covered Bridge
Built in 1883 by Benton Jones, it is 107 feet in length and sits in its original location. Roseman was renovated in 1992 at a cost of $152,515. In Robert James Waller's novel, The Bridges of Madison County, and the movie of the same name, Roseman is the bridge Robert Kincaid seeks when he stops at Francesca Johnson's home for directions; it is also where Francesca leaves her note inviting him to dinner.
Also known as the “haunted” bridge, Roseman is where two sheriff’s posses trapped a county jail escapee in 1892. It is said the man rose up straight through the roof of the bridge, uttering a wild cry, and disappeared. He was never found, and it was decided that anyone capable of such a feat mustbe innocent.
Holliwell Covered Bridge
Built in 1880 by Benton Jones, it is the longest covered bridge, measuring 122 feet. It remains in its original site over the Middle River southeast of Winterset. Holliwell was renovated in 1995 at a cost of $225,000. It is featured in The Bridges of Madison County movie.
Cedar Covered Bridge
Built in 1883 by Benton Jones, Cedar Bridge was 76 feet long and was the last bridge open to vehicles. It was built over Cedar Creek north of Winterset on what is now U.S. Highway 169. It was moved to its present location over the same creek in 1921. In Robert James Waller's novel, The Bridges of Madison County, Cedar Bridge is where Francesca Johnson goes to meet Robert Kincaid to help him take photographs. Cedar is also the bridge on the novel’s cover. The bridge was renovated in 1998 at a cost of $128,073.
Cedar was destroyed by an arsonist on Sept. 3, 2002. A replica of the original bridge was built from the original plans using authentic materials and methods. The new bridge was dedicated on October 9, 2004. You can find out more about the bridge at www.CedarCoveredBridge.com.
Built in 1870 by Eli Cox, the Cutler-Donahoe bridge is 79 feet in length and features a pitched roof. Originally located over the North River near Bevington, it was moved to its present site in Winterset's City Park in 1970. Cutler-Donahoe was renovated in 1997 at a cost of $35,538
Hogback Covered Bridge
Built in 1884 by Benton Jones, the Hogback Covered Bridge measures 97 feet, and is in its original location in a valley north of Winterset. Hogback gets its name from the limestone ridge which forms the west end of the valley. It was renovated in 1992 at a cost of $118,810.
Imes Covered Bridge
The oldest of the remaining covered bridges, Imes was built in 1870 and is 81 feet in length. It was originally located over the Middle River west of Patterson. In 1887 it was moved to a spot over Clinton Creek southwest of Hanley. Imes Bridge was moved again to its present site over a natural ravine just east of St. Charles in 1977. It was renovated in 1997 at a cost of $31,807.