There were 20 covered bridges built in Madison County during the late 19th century. The bridges were covered to help preserve the large flooring timbers which were more expensive to replace than the lumber covering the sides and the roof. Most of the construction work was done by farmers to pay their poll taxes. The bridges were usually named for the nearest resident. Today only six of the bridges still remain, five of which are original. The bridge names are Roseman, Cedar, Cutler-Donahoe, Holliwell, and Hogback.
While in Iowa, I took a day trip to Madison County with my in-laws and we visited 4 of the covered bridges. These bridges were something I never thought I'd see because honestly, who vacations in Iowa? They are beautiful bridges in rural settings that are definitely worth visiting if you live in Iowa or are ever driving through the state.
Cutler-Donahoe Covered Bridge greets visitors as they enter Winterset City Park. Built in 1871 by Eli Cox, it is 79 feet long. Originally over the North River near Bevington, it was moved to its present location in 1970. It was renovated in 1997.
Holliwell Covered Bridge, built in 1880 by Benton James and located over the Middle River southeast of Winterset, is the longest bridge, measuring 122 feet. Holliwell was featured in the film The Bridges of Madison County. It was renovated in 1995.
Cedar Covered Bridge, completed in 1883 by Benton Jones and featured on the cover of the novel The Bridges of Madison County, was built over Cedar Creek on what is now U.S. Highway 169, and moved to its present location in 1921. Destroyed by arson on September 3, 2002, a new replica was built and dedicated in 2004.
Roseman Covered Bridge, built by Benton Jones, is 107 feet in length and has graced the same location since 1883. The best-known of the bridges, Roseman played a prominent role in both the book and the film versions of The Bridges of Madison County. It was renovated in 1992.
"We are the choices that we have made."
~Robert James Waller