As American as apple pie, Madison County, Iowa, was the birthplace of the legendary actor John Wayne and was also the setting for the famous movie and novel, The Bridges of Madison County, featuring Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood.
The Bridges of Madison County tells the story of a lonely war bride who engages in an affair with a National Geographic photographer from Washington who has come to Madison County, Iowa to create a photographic essay on the famous covered bridges.
Madison County is a real district of Iowa, and the bridges here are for real too. You’ll find them in the pretty area of rural Winterset, (30 miles south-west of Des Moines) the town Francesca Johnson ( Meryl Streep) visits to buy her new frock, and where scarlet woman Lucy is ostracised by the locals.
The bridges seen in the movie are the Roseman Bridge, built in 1883, which Robert Kincaid ( Clint Eastwood ) is trying to find when he calls on Francesca’s farmhouse and where the ashes are scattered, and the longest, the Holliwell Bridge over Middle River, southeast of Winterset, where the pair meet up after the visit to the town.
Francesca’s cosy farmhouse was an abandoned ruin in the northeast of the county, renovated for the movie. It’s been kept as a tourist attraction, open from May to October (admission charge). The Northside Cafe, 61 West Jefferson Street, Winterset, also featured heavily in the movie is open for business.
Die-hard fans will want to visit the stone bridge, where Francesca and Robert enjoyed a picnic getaway, which can be found in Winterset’s City Park, just south of the Cutler-Donahue covered bridge. The river crossing, where Francesca’s children discuss her diaries, is Pammel State Park, southwest of Winterset.
To include a visit to Winterset
and The Bridges of Madison County in your fly-drive holiday, contact
the USA experts at Bon Voyage.