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  • Writer's pictureJessica Stough

Adventuring Close to Home - The Bridges of Madison County

Just last week, we decided to take today off from work. We really didn’t have any reason for it besides that we were both able to get the time off. Plus, I thought it would be nice to have an extra day off to catch up after everything I had going on the days prior.

Honestly, as the weekend flew by with event after event, I was more and more pleased with our choice - especially with the time change. Honestly, though, am I the only one that can’t hardly function for the first week after a time change? I wake up way too early and feel like I should be in bed before seven when we “Fall Back.” It’s bad in the fall, but “Spring Forward” is even worse.

Time change or not, having an extra day off together allowed us an opportunity to catch up on a lot of home projects. We installed a new TV in the bedroom, detailed the truck, added some extra insulation into the garage, and did some cleaning. After that, though, we decided we wanted to go on a true daycation - to go on an adventure to a place near home we had never been to before.

We stopped at our favorite local coffee shop, Twisted Bean, grabbed some coffees, and headed to Madison County. Once in Winterset, our first stop was the Madison County Welcome Center. We instantly realized that Google stated they were open on Mondays, but the sign on their door stated they were not open on Mondays.

Once we established that the Welcome Center was a lost cause, we planned our route with the help of the online Covered Bridges Scenic Byway map. To be honest, had we known that the Welcome Center was going to be closed, I would’ve almost rather planned it out with the online map. Since I was banking on a physical map, though, we winged it today.


Cutler-Donahoe Covered Bridge

We stopped at the covered bridge right in town first, the Cutler-Donahoe Covered Bridge. The bridge was built in 1870. One hundred years later, it was moved to its current location. Now, it sits right in the middle of a beautiful park.


Roseman Covered Bridge

Next, we turned up some dust on gravel roads to get to the Roseman Covered Bridge. This bridge is supposedly haunted. There are multiple stories around the bridge’s history. First, a forbidden lover was apparently chased there by his lover’s family. Second, an escaped prisoner was chased by police there.

In both stories, those chased to the bridge disappeared and were never seen again. It is said that screams, laughing, and other spooky sounds can be heard at the bridge to this day. In addition, random cold spots can be felt while in the middle of the bridge.

Before reading about the haunted history of the bridge, I noticed a cold chill mid-bridge. I assumed it was because it was chilly this morning, and I wasn’t getting any warmth from the sun while standing in the middle of a covered bridge. Perhaps, though, it was something more sinister and spooky - no matter, I’ll never know.

Despite the haunted history and creepy cold chill, Roseman Covered Bridge was one of my favorites we saw today. Not only did it have a collection of padlocks to commemorate some of those that had visited, but it also had the two best messages I saw today, right next to each other. “You are beautiful,” and “You are loved, not hated.”


Holliwell Covered Bridge

After Roseman, we headed toward Holliwell Covered Bridge, built in 1880. Holliwell is the longest of the remaining covered bridges, at 170 feet in length. Holliwell was in a beautiful location. The fall colors against the Middle River was quite a sight to see.


Imes Covered Bridge

Next up, we headed out toward St. Charles to see Imes Covered Bridge. Imes Covered Bridge was built in 1870 just before Cutler-Donahoe, so it is the oldest remaining covered bridge. Imes was actually moved not once, but twice, before it was placed in its current location.

After stopping at Imes Covered Bridge, we decided to try out some local food as we made our way back toward Winterset. The Cellar was the highest rated food place in town, so we went with that. They advertised themselves as “Not Just a Coffee Shop,” which was so true. Apparently, they are actually a non-profit coffee shop.

They had a delicious lunch menu, and were located in such an adorable location. The Cellar, appropriately named, was only accessible by going down a set of stairs from the sidewalk (I tried to get a picture of the entrance, but someone came out right as I was getting my camera ready - I figured he wouldn’t appreciate the publicity). I would highly recommend it if anyone visits the area.


Cedar Covered Bridge

Finally, after lunch, we hit up Cedar Covered Bridge. Cedar Covered Bridge was fun because it was the first bridge that we could actually drive through. Not only that, but it was at the center of a county park so it was (like Cutler-Donahoe) in a fun location.


Hogback Covered Bridge

We ended our tour with Hogback Covered Bridge. Although we didn’t realize it at the time, the last bridge to be built was the last bridge of our driving tour. I made a joke on our way to the bridge that it was probably called hogback because it was in Iowa, but realized once we got there that it got its name from the limestone ridge nearby.

After we visited all six of the covered bridges, I looked into Madison County Winery and Covered Bridges Winery. I thought a fun way to celebrate the covered bridge tour we just completed would be to try some local wine. We found out, though, that one of the downsides to a last-minute trip idea was that places may be closed. Both wineries are apparently closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

We didn’t get a chance to visit either winery, but we did stop at the store and grab one bottle of Madison County Winery wine to try when we got home. It’s not quite like trying it out at the tasting room, but it was still a fun way to end the daycation.


I know for sure we will be back sometime. We already talked about how fun it would be to visit when the leaves were just turning to their fall colors - maybe we will be able to see them next year. If we do that, perhaps I’ll be able to talk Zac into a winery visit then. In the meantime, I’ll just soak up the rest of this amazing fall weather we’ve been getting these past few days.

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