Photo Friday: Iowa’s Bridges of Madison County

by Chris on September 7, 2012

This week’s Photo Friday theme is bridges, so we take you to Madison County, Iowa, which has the titular covered bridges of the popular book and movie.

This is the latest in a series of travel photos inspired by #FriFotos on Twitter. The theme of this week’s Photo Friday is BRIDGES.

Roseman Covered Bridge, Madison County, Iowa

My in-laws live in Atlantic, Iowa, a town of 7,500 an hour east of Omaha. I’ve visited several times, first for my husband’s high school reunion and last year to celebrate my mother and father-in-law’s 60th wedding anniversary.

Cedar Covered Bridge, Madison County, Iowa
While it’s always nice to see family, my husband and I usually like to take a few hours during these type of trips to do our own exploring. In rural Iowa, this can present some challenges. Then Don told me that Madison County – the setting for Robert James Waller’s treacly novel, The Bridges of Madison County – was right down the road. And thus a day trip was born.

Bridges of Madison County, Clint Eastwood graffiti
I actually had never read the best-selling book, so popular in 1992, or seen the 1995 movie with Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood. So I downloaded the book on my Kindle and read from it dramatically as we drove between the bridges.

Hogback Covered Bridge, Madison County, Iowa

At one time, Madison County had 19 covered bridges. Only six remain, and all are open to the public. We picked up a map at the Heavenly Habitat, a church that’s been turned into bed & breakfast (which ended up being one of my favorite B & Bs, ever).  After a brief stop at John Wayne’s birthplace in downtown Winterset, the county seat, we headed out to track them all down.

Holliwell Bridge, Madison County, Iowa
It turns out that Madison County is not small – and the bridges are not close together. It took us about half a day to get to all of them. Even after all this time, the bridges hold up as a tourist attraction. We saw visitors at each one.

Imes Covered Bridge, Madison County, Iowa
All in all, the trip was a pleasant diversion. On a sunny day, with the windows open in our car, we laughed at Butler’s overwrought prose, stopped for ice cream and took way too many photos of structures that now, a year later, seem the same. And when we got home, we did watch the movie, supposedly still a romantic favorite. I’m almost 100 percent sure Don fell asleep.

| Chris Gray Faust is a veteran journalist, travel expert, social media butterfly - and editrix of this site. Like what you read? Check out her writing, editing and social media services.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Yvonne September 7, 2012 at 8:42 am

One of my most favorite “day trips” while we were living in Ames, IA! Thanks for sharing your experience with us Chris.

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Cathy Sweeney September 9, 2012 at 2:44 pm

I love these bridges and that part of Iowa. We drove through there a few years ago on a gorgeous summer day. I haven’t seen the movie in quite a while, but I think the story has probably withstood the test of time as a romantic flick.

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Tom @ Waegook Tom September 10, 2012 at 8:47 am

This actually sounds like a pretty cool day trip – although I’ve never seen the book or watched the movie, it does sound super fun. I’m actually a fan of treacly, dramatic romance novels to an extent. The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough is one of my favourite novels of all-time!

I had no idea that this is what the bridges looked like, though. Heard of them but never seen a picture of them until now. Thanks for sharing :)

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