The Real Covered Bridges of Madison County

By: Susan R Hatten

June 3, 2014

Tucked amidst the dusty roads and emerald green rolling pastures of central Iowa, and just 30 miles southwest of Des Moines, a collection of historic bridges beckon visitors and delight the senses. Based on the 1992 bestselling novel by Robert Waller, the 1995 film, The Bridges of Madison County, brought fame to the landmark covered bridges of Madison County and the Iowa landscape, alike.

Cedar Covered Bridge near Winterset Iowa and Flowers-Bridges of Madison County Iowa | Bridges of Madison County

Cedar covered bridge near Winterset, Iowa © Robert Ford/iStock/Thinkstock

And just as poetic as the storyline, these bridges stand tall and carry stories well beyond their years. Dating back to the late 1800’s, these architectural wonders were crafted originally to serve as a shelter for the truss structure of the bridges.

Closeup Hogback Covered Bridge Sign | Bridges of Madison County

Hogback Covered Bridge sign near Winterset, Iowa © Robert Ford/iStock/Thinkstock

As you walk inside these now preserved bridges, you will see why they hold such romantic and nostalgic value. Lining the walls are words written to lovers, confessions carved in the grandfatherly beams and areas where you can see years of weather and history have taken their toll.

Hogback Covered Bridge near Winterset Madison County Iowa | Covered Bridges of Madison County

Hogback Covered Bridge near Winterset Madison County, Iowa © Robert Ford/iStock/Thinkstock

Madison County, Iowa, is home to 15,500 residents who call these bridges their own, and those who wish to visit and breathe in the amorous mystery of this community are immediately greeted by locals who are eager to find you a blissful night’s rest at the White Lions Bed & Breakfast or glass of aromatic Midnight Rain red wine at Madison County Winery.

Timeless treasures | Covered Bridges In Madison County

Inside view of a covered bridge © amolson7/iStock/Thinkstock

While proud, natives know there is much more to their county than the bridges. Home of the Delicious brand apple and the birthplace of America’s cowboy, John Wayne, this Midwest locale is truly as wholesome as apple pie.

The Covered Bridges of Madision Country | Larry Young Pictures

Bridges of Madison County, Iowa © Thinkstock/kompasstudio

In our crazed lives of hustle, bustle, trials and travel, it is refreshing to spend time in a community where both history and civility are still alive. As romantic as the love scenes in The Bridges of Madison County, you are sure to find your own calling of mystery and charm in this lovely little gem set quietly in the Heartland.

The Covered Bridges of Madison County | Roseman Covered Bridge

Roseman Covered Bridge © Thinkstock/Medioimages/Photodisc

Header image: A classic example of the covered bridges found across Madison County © Larry Young

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Have you visited the covered bridges of Madison County? Let us know in the comments section below.

Written by Susan R. Hatten


Susan R Hatten

Susan R. Hatten resides in Downtown Des Moines, Iowa. Susan has been writing as a hobby since she was a young girl, and began diligently adding to her collection of poetry and short stories when she was 21. She has written for the Huffington Post, Divine Caroline, and currently hosts the blog; Ruby Slippers, on Susan enjoys an active lifestyle, including travel for both business and pleasure, workouts and spending time outdoors. She is passionate about carving out time with loved ones, celebrating the history of wine, and is an avid entertainment and live music lover.

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