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Overview

It started with a glass of iced tea. On a sultry Iowa day in 1965, a photographer was looking for the bridges of Madison County. Six of them he found. The seventh, known as Roseman Bridge, eluded him. So the photographer did what he usually did when he needed directions. He asked. He stopped at a farmhouse near Winterset where a housewife was sitting on the front porch, sipping iced tea. She offered him a cold drink. He accepted. That's how Robert Kincaid met Francesca Johnson. At least, that's how the story went in the popular novel and movie, The Bridges of Madison County. The tale isn't true. But Madison County, Iowa, does have ...

It started with a glass of iced tea. On a sultry Iowa day in 1965, a photographer was looking for the bridges of Madison County. Six of them he found. The seventh, known as Roseman Bridge, eluded him. So the photographer did what he usually did when he needed directions. He asked. He stopped at a farmhouse near Winterset where a housewife was sitting on the front porch, sipping iced tea. She offered him a cold drink. He accepted. That's how Robert Kincaid met Francesca Johnson. At least, that's how the story went in the popular novel and movie, The Bridges of Madison County. The tale isn't true. But Madison County, Iowa, does have some noted covered bridges that have become popular spots for tourists, lovers and photographers. At one time, the county had 19 covered bridges. Only six are left now, including the gracefully arched Stone Bridge in Winterset City Park. The county seat, Winterset was first plotted in 1849 and is the birthplace of Marion Robert Morrison, better known as actor John Wayne. The modest home where he was born is now a museum with memorabilia such as the eye patch he wore in True Grit and the cavalry hat from Rio Lobo. For a great view of the Middle River Valley, climb the 25-foot-tall Clark's Tower in Winterset City Park.

Jackie Finch
About the Expert

Jackie Sheckler Finch has written several guidebooks, including The Unofficial Guide to Campgrounds in the Great Lakes States, and four times she was named Travel Writer of the Year by Midwest Travel Writers Association.

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Winterset is located in south central Iowa, part of the Des Moines-West Des Moines Metropolitan Area
  • Research: Wikitravel | Wikipedia
  • Weather: Daylight | Rainfall
  • Current Time:

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Second full weekend in October for the Madison County Covered Bridge Festival