Winterset, Iowa ~ Photos of City Park with Covered Bridge and Pioneer Log Cabin

Cutler- Donahoe Covered Bridge in Winterset, Iowa City Park

Cutler- Donahoe Covered Bridge in Winterset, Iowa City Park
Cutler- Donahoe Covered Bridge in Winterset, Iowa City Park | Source

Fall colors in the Winterset City Park

Fall colors in the Winterset City Park
Fall colors in the Winterset City Park | Source

Visiting Iowa


My mother and I have had several occasions to visit the small town of Winterset, Iowa. We have relatives living in Bettendorf, Iowa. Often while on vacation, we liked seeing things of interest while heading on up to our final destination and also on our return trip home to Houston, Texas.

Since we were driving our own car, this was easy to accomplish.

I have several reference books at home and would research things of interest when planning a driving trip.

On our first trip to Winterset, my young niece was with us. That time we stopped to see the birthplace of the actor John Wayne. A post has already been written showing photos of the tiny home in which he and his family lived for a time.

On the next occasion my mother and I spent some time wandering through the gorgeous and historic city park in Winterset of which photos will be shown.


The Bridges of Madison County trailer

(Another) Bridges of Madison County Trailer

Winterset, Iowa


This small town was first drawn and laid out (platted) in the year 1849. This area was pretty much prairie land back then and was perfect for farming.

As of the 2000 census, this town is still small having only 4,768 people and consisting of a mere three and a half square miles of land.

That being said, it is the County seat of Madison County where the 1995 movie film starring Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood (based on the 1992 best selling book by Robert James Waller) The Bridges of Madison County was made.

Meryl Streep won an Academy Award as best actress for her performance in this romantic and sensual film.

It concerns a housewife whose family has gone to the Iowa State Fair and a photographer who is in the area filming the historic covered bridges in the area. They find themselves attracted to one another and for those who may not have seen the film...you can probably surmise the rest.


Cutler-Donahoe Covered Bridge and my mother

Cutler-Donahoe Covered Bridge and my mother
Cutler-Donahoe Covered Bridge and my mother | Source

Covered Bridges


There are six covered bridges in Madison County which have attracted many more visitors in the years since the movie The Bridges of Madison County was made. My mother and I stopped to see three of the six and one of them was right in the city park of Winterset which is what drew us to this site.

It is the Cutler-Donahoe Bridge built in 1870. This is not its original location for this 79 foot ( 24 meter ) structure. It was moved to the City Park in Winterset in 1979 from its location near Belvington, Iowa where it spanned the North River.

The reason people originally built these covered bridges was to prolong the life of the bridges. Most of the old ones are wooden and weather conditions impact the longevity. By constructing roofs and sides, it was proven to lengthen the permanence and durability of the bridges by decades.

Preservationists are interested in saving and maintaining the few remaining covered bridges wherever they are in the country so that people in the future can still see and experience these historic structures.

Covered Bridges of Madison County - Footage of actual bridges

Winterset, Iowa City Park

Winterset, Iowa City Park
Winterset, Iowa City Park | Source

Plaque dedicated to A.W. Crawford in the Winterset City Park

Plaque dedicated to A.W. Crawford in the Winterset City Park
Plaque dedicated to A.W. Crawford in the Winterset City Park | Source

A.W. Crawford


There was a plaque dedicated to A.W. Crawford with an image of him in this park and engraved were the following words:

In memory of A.W. Crawford whose love of nature and little children and his loyalty to his home people lead him to give $25,000.00 to make this city park possible.

A.D. 1918

That was undoubtedly a lot of money back in 1918!

According to some public records, A.W. Crawford was born in Cincinnati and came to this part of Iowa in 1856 with his parents.

His dad was in the grocery business and he became a junior partner in A. Crawford and Son in 1872. By 1876 he and his brother George F. Crawford assumed running the business under the name Crawford Brothers.

Winterset, Iowa City Park

Winterset, Iowa City Park
Winterset, Iowa City Park | Source

Pioneer cabin in Winterset, Iowa City Park

Pioneer cabin in Winterset, Iowa City Park
Pioneer cabin in Winterset, Iowa City Park | Source

Andrew Bennett


While still a boy, Andrew Bennett moved to Madison County from Marion County in Indiana in 1852 when this part of Iowa was just starting to be settled by pioneering farmers and others.

There is a log cabin that was built by Andrew Bennett in 1852 that is situated in this park. It has been renovated and restored by several people and groups of people as the sign attached to it indicates.

Mr. Bennett married in 1860 and had nine children.

According to a report in a Winterset paper dated December 21, 1905, "He was well known throughout the county and was everywhere respected as an upright man, worthy of the esteem he enjoyed."

This notation was made after Andrew Bennett died on December 14, 1905 at the age of 70 after a battle with cancer.

Log cabin built by Andrew Bennett in the Winterset City Park.

Log cabin built by Andrew Bennett in the Winterset City Park.
Log cabin built by Andrew Bennett in the Winterset City Park. | Source

Have you seen this covered bridge in Winterset, Iowa?

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The town of Winterset is only about thirty miles southwest of Iowa's capitol city of Des Moines. It is a charming little town.

In addition to John Wayne, other notable people coming from this area include the botanist and inventor George Washington Carver; Fred Clarke who is in the baseball Hall of Fame, and the 33rd Vice-President of the United States, Henry A. Wallace who served under President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Hope you enjoyed looking at Winterset, Iowa's charming city park with it's historic covered bridge and pioneer log cabin half as much as my mother and I did when we visited there many years ago. Stop by and see it for yourself if you are ever in the area.

Vintage photo of Winterset, Iowa from 1907

Vintage photo of Winterset, Iowa from 1907
Vintage photo of Winterset, Iowa from 1907 | Source

Winterset, Iowa Location with City Park

A markerWinterset, Iowa -
Winterset, IA 50273, USA
[get directions]

If you enjoyed this article, please take time to give it your star rating. Thank you!!!

4.7 out of 5 stars from 6 ratings of City Park in Winterset, Iowa

© 2011 Peggy Woods

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Comments are always welcomed. 56 comments

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 22 months ago from Houston, Texas Author

Hi Au fait,

Winterset, Iowa is a charming town in Iowa and this park is definitely worth a visit. Thanks for your shares. It was especially beautiful in the fall season with the colored leaves but would be fun anytime of year to visit.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 22 months ago from North Texas

Vacation planning time is almost here again. Winterset would be a good place to visit. You have lots of good information here to help people make their plans. Sharing with my followers again and posting to FB.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 2 years ago from Houston, Texas Author

Hi Kimberly,

How wonderful for you to be able to visit this landmark especially knowing that you were related.


Kimberly 2 years ago

Thank you for posting this information. I am a descendent of Andrew Bennett. My grandfather, George R Bennett flew us back to Iowa in 2000 so that we could see some of these historic landmarks.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 3 years ago from Houston, Texas Author

Hello vandynegl,

There are some covered bridges still in existence in other parts of the country but there are fewer of them as time passes. They are definitely a link to the past. So glad that you liked this. Thanks for your comment.


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