Madison County, Iowa: More Than Just Covered Bridges!
Somewhere in Winterset.
A hub with un-touristy photos too good not to share from four trips to Madison County, Iowa, and the county seat, Winterset, in the fall of 1994, plus a Youtube video from the annual Covered Bridge Festival which truly captures the spirit and boundless enthusiasm of Madison Countians.
But first, how Winterset got its unusual name.
Madison County was named for James Madison, fourth president of the United States. Until 1848, for election and taxation purposes, it and Warren County, its next-door neighbor on the east, were part of Marion County. In April 1849, Madison County finally was "set off" - came into its own as a separate county - at which point a site for the county seat had to be chosen. This honor was bestowed on a parcel of land on John Guiberson's farm.
The next order of business was choosing a name for the new town that would arise.
The favorite was "Summerset", which may've been a play on the name of Pennsylvania's Somerset county and town. However, that July day happened to be unseasonably cold, prompting one shivering committee member to put forth "Winterset" instead.
So now you know... Winterset got its name purely by a fluke of nature.
A video that captures the spirit of Madison Countians.
NOTE: The video above is by WayneD8 at Youtube. But all of the still photos in this hub were made by me, JamaGenee, before camera crews and Clint and Meryl arrived to film the movie "The Bridges of Madison County"...i.e. before Winterset turned into just one more stop for tour buses and souvenir hunters.
You won't see this shot of Roseman Bridge on postcards...
...Or the one at right.
In 1992, Madison County spent over $100,00 renovating the 107-foot Roseman Covered Bridge.
Barely two years later, producers of the movie "The Bridges of Madison County" declared the Roseman "didn't look old", as it would have in the 1960s when Francesca Johnson and Robert Kincaid rendezvoused there.
So what you see here is part of work to "un-spiff" the bridge for its film debut.
Much of the new paint from 1992 had already been scraped to look "weathered". (The movie company would repaint after filming finished).
The gaps in the siding and planks on the protruding support beams on the side were so camera crews could shoot scenes inside the bridge.
And you didn't see THIS in the movie!
Madison County, Iowa
The bridge behind (and depicted in) the rustic sign above is the Imes Covered Bridge located one mile off I-35 near St. Charles, Iowa. Built in 1870, Imes is the oldest of Madison County's remaining covered bridges. In 1877, it was moved from its original location to a spot over Clanton Creek near Hanley, Iowa, where it remained until 1977 when it was moved again to its present location. Somehow I think moving a 117-year-old wooden bridge would be much easier than moving a two-story house the same age, but then residents of Madison County have quite a bit of practice in bridge moving. Very few of its famous bridges haven't been moved!
Clanton Creek, of course, was named after the first families to settle on it headed by three brothers of Ruth (nee Clanton) Clark, wife of Caleb. Clark Memorial Tower at the far edge of Winterset City Park was built in Ruth and Caleb's memory by four of their grandsons.
Cedar Covered Bridge
The photo at right is my youngest pretending to be supporting the original Cedar Covered Bridge located north of Winterset over Cedar Creek.
Back then, pretending to hold up large structures like bridges and distant farms with one hand was his idea of Cutting Edge Photography. (Whatever....)
Although I'm sure we took more conventional photos of the top side of Cedar, this is the only one can find in the pile. A real shame, because the bridge you see here was destroyed by arsonists in 2002 and a new version built to replace it in 2004.
Cedar is the only Madison County covered bridge which vehicles can use. The county installed security cameras on the new bridge to deter further vandalism.
The BACK of John Wayne's birthplace in Winterset.
You never snapped a photo of the back of some famous person's childhood home?
Okay, as a rule I don't either.
But in the photo at right of the front of the Morrison home, the building to the right and behind it housing the Gift Shop looks to be just another, more modern house on the same block.
Just wanted to clarify that is isn't.
Have a great day!!
More about Winterset and Madison County:
- Clark Tower in Winterset Iowa's City Park
Clark Memorial Tower at the far edge of Winterset Iowa's City Park is dedicated to Madison County pioneers Caleb and Ruth Clark. But who were the Clarks? What did they do to warrant erecting the crenelated tower of a medieval castle in their honor?
- A Wild Weekend in...IOWA?
What could Elton John, Billy Joel, a cemetery, a 70-something nudist, John Wayne, the Bridges of Madison County, and a tanning salon possibly have in common? Well, they were all part of an unstructured, adventure-packed weekend in IOWA!
- John Wayne ~ Winterset, Iowa Birthplace Photos ~ Iconic Western Film Star
We were amazed at the tiny house in which Marion Morrison best known as John Wayne or "The Duke" was born. We learned many details about his youth in this museum setting. Photos of the house and small town of Winterset, Iowa are shown in this hub as
More by this Author
In a comment on my KS Historical Society hub, hubber Elena said she was "mesmerized" by the pink rock that appears in many of the photos. Well, I've walked past it so many times that I didn't even notice it...
What could Elton John, Billy Joel, a cemetery, a 70-something nudist, John Wayne, the book and movie The Bridges of Madison County, and a tanning salon possibly have in common? They were all part of an unplanned,...
Clark Memorial Tower at the far edge of Winterset Iowa's City Park is dedicated to Madison County pioneers Caleb and Ruth Clark. But who were the Clarks? What did they do to warrant erecting the crenelated tower of a...