Monday, June 6, 2011

Bridges of Madison County

I'm not talking about the book (which I read and didn't like) or the movie (which I haven't seen.)

I'm talking about the actual bridges of Madison County. Six historic covered bridges located in Madison County, Iowa.

I first fell in love with these bridges when I saw a sign along I-80 when we were moving here, indicating the exit for the bridges, long before I ever saw them.

When Hubster and I starting making plans for our 10 year anniversary, we initially had all sorts of plans. A weekend in Chicago, with fancy restaurants, shows, and a hotel with city views. A cabin at a lake in Minnesota. A bed and breakfast in Madison Country with the bridges. We quickly realized that a weekend away, just the two of us, was not going to happen. With no way to secure a babysitter for the boys for more than a few hours in an evening, two days sans children was impossible. But instead of feeling (too) sorry for ourselves and not doing anything, we decided that the children would just come with us.

We drove several hours to Winterset, Iowa, the small town that the bridges surround. The rest of the day was spent traveling dusty country back roads, following the crude map I had the best we could, making our way to each of the covered bridges.

This is the point where I attempt not to inundate you with photos. Because it turns out, I loved the bridges more than I imaging.

Despite the fact I haven't seen the movie and I didn't like the book, these bridges have a romantic air to the them. They make a person want to hold the hand of the person they love tightly, stroll quietly through each bridge, and then watch the water slip by underneath. Which is exactly what we did.

Along with hollering at our boys to please try not to fall off the bridge and for heaven's sake, stay out of the water!

Although most of the bridges have been renovated, many are still in their original locations and still have the original, now 100 year plus old wood planks making up the floor of each bridge. The floors have been worn down, until the knots in the wood stand higher than the surrounding wood, making me wonder how many other people in love have wandered across these bridges.

Along with the shape and the classic coloring, the thing I noticed quickly was the writing. At first, I thought it was simply vandalism. Then I realized that each bridge was acting as its own guest book. For the most part, the wood was densely covered in names and dates. But mingled in between (along with the occasional obscene graffiti) were messages. Messages of dreams coming true, of families traveling together, and of falling in love.

After the covered bridges, we continued to spend time exploring the roads of Madison County. As it turns out, there is more to the area than 140 year old bridges.

There were towers to climb,

stone bridges to stroll over,

mazes to explore,

and rolling Iowa country scenery to take in.

We spent a beautiful day driving through the heartland, tightly holding hands, falling more in love with Iowa, more in love with the bridges of Madison County, and more in love with each other.


  1. That's awesome! We love covered bridges! We're hoping to head west for a real vacation next year, maybe we'll just have to make this one of our stops! :)

  2. What beautiful countryside.


  3. Sooo Cool! I love the stone tower and bridges too! Mazes? It is truly beautiful. Blessings!

  4. I'm glad you got to celebrate. Congratulations on ten years of marriage.

  5. What a great way to spend an anniversary! Save Chicago for your 20th when the kids will (hopefully) be in college/on their own. ; )

  6. Wow, that looks so fun! Love your photos!

  7. Gorgeous!! I knew there was a real Madison County, but I didn't realize it was in Iowa. Very cool!

  8. The fact that places like this still exist in America make me really love my country!

    I love this post!

  9. Hi Katherine! I'm here via Karen...right above me there. I have been to Winterset, Iowa! My grandparents and parents were all from Greenfiled, Iowa which is just a few miles away, in Adair County! I have so many fond memories of childhood summer vacations there! I still try to go back as often as possible. I also wrote a weekly column for the Adair County Free Press for over a year, but went on hiatus to complete my book. (which has been in limbo for a LONG time!) It would so fun to talk about "Iowa stuff" with you someday! :)

  10. Absolutely beautiful! Stopping by from Karen's blog!

  11. Marvelous bridges...
    It remember me about "Sur la route de Madisson" (on the Madisson's road) the great Clint Eastwood movie....
    Thanks to share,
    Greetings from France,