The weather forecast for today was “clear skies and 25 degrees”… the perfect day to find the six bridges of Madison County plus whatever else we happened along. We were up at 4:30 am (yes, I know) so why not try to see the sun coming up on one of the bridges. We pulled on our sweats and off we went.
All the side roads around the main town center are dirt… which really lends to the “country” atmosphere. Within 10 minutes, we had found Holliwell Bridge just 3 miles from our hotel. As we waited for the sun to rise, we heard wild turkeys, wild coyotes and watched rabbits hop around our car. It was a gorgeous sunrise. A multitude of birds’ chorus included red-winged blackbirds, meadow larks, Baltimore orioles, cardinals, robins, song sparrows… and those were just the ones I could identify. With photos taken, it was back to the hotel for breakfast and then off again in search of more bridges.
We quickly found Cedar Bridge which, unfortunately, was victim to an arson attack just three weeks prior. Such a shame… it has a lovely picnic park around it with BBQ pits and tables, etc. The locals are already collecting donations to rebuild it. FYI, the arsonist was caught and is awaiting trial.
We carried on to find the farm house where scenes from The Bridges of Madison County with Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood were filmed 20 years ago. This old house also fell victim to arson and although still standing, is now closed to the public. We learned later that several other landmarks in the area were destroyed or damaged by arson. Tsk tsk.
Moving on, we drifted over the rolling hills and dirt roads of Madison County and by mid morning we had found and photographed Hogback Bridge, the Old Gristmill at Pammel State Park (the car ford across the river was closed due to high water), Roseman Bridge, Cutler-Donahoe Bridge, the Winterset Tower, and visited the John Wayne Museum and his birthplace in town. John Wayne lived here until he was 3 years old when his family moved a few miles north. Winterset has capitalized on his name and fame to draw tourists… and they’ve done a great job of the museum. Still almost 40 years after his death, hundreds of people come here each year to celebrate his birthday at the end of May.
Lunch was left over pizza from last night in our hotel room with a nice cold glass of Francesca’s Folly blush wine we got at the grocery store yesterday. It was made locally at the Covered Bridges Winery and was so good, we decided to visit the winery ourselves. So, after a brief rest, off we went again. This was the winery we tried to visit yesterday but was closed. Turns out we were at the old site… the new site is just up the road from our hotel.
On the way to the winery we found the sixth and final bridge, the Imes Bridge, in the town of St. Charles. All six bridges have a similar look with their red paint (except Cedar which is burnt black and shows only the skeletal remains) and all of them are pedestrian only.
Touring done for the day, it was back into town for dinner at the Northside Cafe where scenes from the movie were also filmed. It is right out of the 50s with its swivel bar stools, worn wooden booths and floors, ancient milkshake maker and tin ceiling. The burgers were awesome!
This is as far west as we go on our travels… tomorrow we move east toward home with some highly anticipated stops along the way.
Here are the photo highlights of day 28 – The Bridges of Madison County