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Winterset, Iowa City Park: See Photos of a Covered Bridge and Pioneer Log Cabin

I live in Houston and have worked as a nurse. I have a lifelong passion for traveling, nature, and photography (preferably all together!).

Winterset, Iowa City Park

Winterset, Iowa City Park

Visiting Winterset, Iowa

My mother and I have had several occasions to visit the small town of Winterset, Iowa. We have relatives living in nearby Bettendorf, Iowa. Often while on vacation, we liked seeing things of interest while heading on up to our final destination and also on our return trip home to Houston, Texas.

Since I was driving my car, this was easy to accomplish. I have several reference books at home and often research things of interest when planning a driving trip.

On our first trip to Winterset, my young niece was with us. That time we stopped to see the birthplace of the actor John Wayne. I have already written an article showing photos of the tiny home in which he and his family lived for a time. On the next occasion, my mother and I spent some time wandering through the gorgeous and historic city park in this charming small town.

Madison County Seat

This small town was first laid out (platted) in the year 1849. This area was pretty much prairie land back then and was perfect for farming.

As of the 2010 census, this town is still small. It has 5,190 people and consists of a mere three and a half square miles of land.

It is the county seat of Madison County. The location was the backdrop for the 1995 movie film starring Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood (based on the 1992 best-selling book by Robert James Waller) The Bridges of Madison County.

Meryl Streep won an Academy Award as best actress for her performance in this romantic and sensual film.

It concerns a wife, whose family has gone to the Iowa State Fair, and a photographer who is in the area filming the historic covered bridges in the area. They find themselves attracted to one another, and for those who may not have seen the film, you can probably surmise the rest.

Covered Bridges

There are six covered bridges in Madison County. They have attracted many more visitors since the movie The Bridges of Madison County came out on film. My mother and I stopped to see three of the six, and one of them was right in the city park of Winterset that drew us to this site.

It is the Cutler-Donahoe Bridge built in the year 1870. This setting is not its original location for this 79 foot (24 meters) structure. It was moved to the City Park in Winterset in 1979 from its location near Bevington, Iowa, where it spanned the North River.

The reason people originally built these covered bridges was to prolong the life of the bridges. Most of the old ones are wooden, and weather conditions impact the longevity. By adding roofs and sides to the bridges, it lengthened the durability of the bridges by decades.

Preservationists are interested in saving and maintaining the few remaining covered bridges wherever they are in the country so that people in the future can still see and experience these historic structures.

Covered Bridges of Madison County - Footage of Actual Bridges

A.W. Crawford

There was a plaque dedicated to A.W. Crawford with an image of him in this park, and engraved were the following words:

In memory of A.W. Crawford, whose love of nature and little children and his loyalty to his home people lead him to give $25,000.00 to make this city park possible.
A.D. 1918

That was undoubtedly a lot of money back in 1918!

According to public records, A.W. Crawford was born in Cincinnati and came to this part of Iowa in 1856.

His dad was in the grocery business, and he became a junior partner in A. Crawford and Son in 1872. By 1876 he and his brother George F. Crawford assumed running the family business under the name Crawford Brothers.

Plaque dedicated to A.W. Crawford in the city park

Plaque dedicated to A.W. Crawford in the city park

Andrew Bennett

While still a boy, Andrew Bennett moved to Madison County from Marion County in Indiana in 1852 when this part of Iowa had pioneering farmers and others settling in this area.

There is a log cabin that was built by Andrew Bennett in 1852 situated in this park. Several people have worked on its renovations and the restoration of this log cabin, as the attached sign indicates.

Mr. Bennett married in 1860 and had nine children.

According to a report in a Winterset paper dated December 21, 1905, "He was well known throughout the county and was everywhere respected as an upright man, worthy of the esteem he enjoyed." This notation was made after Andrew Bennett died on December 14, 1905, at age 70, after a battle with cancer.

Worth a Visit

The town of Winterset is only about thirty miles southwest of Iowa's capital city of Des Moines. It is a charming little town.

In addition to John Wayne, other notable people have come from this area. They include:

  • The botanist and inventor George Washington Carver
  • Fred Clarke, who is in the baseball Hall of Fame
  • The 33rd Vice-President of the United States, Henry A. Wallace who served under President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

I hope you enjoyed looking at Winterset, Iowa's charming city park with its historic covered bridge and pioneer log cabin half as much as my mother and I did when we visited there many years ago. Stop by and see it, plus more of this town for yourself if you are ever in the area.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2011 Peggy Woods

Comments are always welcomed.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 02, 2021:

Hi Devika,

Thanks for commenting on this scenic park in Winterset, Iowa. It was a fun place to visit.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on February 02, 2021:

Peggy W thank you for sharing this and a charming place too.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 30, 2021:

Hi Manatita,

Yes, John Wayne was born in a tiny house in Winterset, Iowa. I have written an article showing the house. It is now a museum. The city park is really a pretty one. Thanks for your comment.

manatita44 from london on January 30, 2021:

A charming account of Winterset, Iowa and the beauty of its Park. So John Wayne was born there? Interesting!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 27, 2021:

Hi Denise,

I am pleased that you enjoyed reading this, and now wish to see that movie. Thanks for your comment.

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on January 27, 2021:

I feel like I just took a trip with you. All the nice photos and movie trailer make me want to look up the full-length feature. I've never seen that movie and now I must.



Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 26, 2021:

Hi Harry,

Perhaps someday you will put Winterset on your list of Iowa places to visit. It is a charming little town. My mother and I really liked getting to visit this beautiful park and other sites in Winterset. If you go there, be sure to visit the birthplace of John Wayne.

Harry on January 26, 2021:

I have visited many small towns in Iowa but was not familiar with Winterset. Beautifully written and presented story. Thanks.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 19, 2021:

Hi MG,

So glad you enjoyed learning about this small town in Iowa and what it has to offer by way of history.

MG Singh emge from Singapore on January 19, 2021:

This is a wonderful article and I enjoyed reading it with all the lovely photos thrown in.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 19, 2021:

Winterset, Iowa, is a charming little town. Learn about the history of fixtures in its beautiful city park and more. Covered bridge lovers flock to this area!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 21, 2018:

Hi C E Clark,

The fall season up north is truly beautiful with the colored leaves and crisp cool weather. It is surely not the same here in Texas. But then we generally have mild winters and do not have to shovel snow. I guess few places have perfect weather all of the time.

C E Clark from North Texas on August 21, 2018:

Wonderful photos that make me long for autumn the way I remember it as a kid. That crispness in the air, the falling leaves, and walking through the fallen leaves often in September. I don't think Texas has a proper autumn. While it does cool down gradually, it's still too hot up till December or so. I can remember having the windows open the second week of December back in 1990 because the temps were in the 80s. I know the natives get bundled up when the temp drops below 90 here, but I have never been able to get used to the awful heat in over 30 years here.

Posted on FB and Awesome HubPages

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 03, 2015:

Hi Au fait,

Winterset, Iowa is a charming town in Iowa and this park is definitely worth a visit. Thanks for your shares. It was especially beautiful in the fall season with the colored leaves but would be fun anytime of year to visit.

C E Clark from North Texas on February 03, 2015:

Vacation planning time is almost here again. Winterset would be a good place to visit. You have lots of good information here to help people make their plans. Sharing with my followers again and posting to FB.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 20, 2014:

Hi Kimberly,

How wonderful for you to be able to visit this landmark especially knowing that you were related.

Kimberly on January 20, 2014:

Thank you for posting this information. I am a descendent of Andrew Bennett. My grandfather, George R Bennett flew us back to Iowa in 2000 so that we could see some of these historic landmarks.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 29, 2013:

Hello vandynegl,

There are some covered bridges still in existence in other parts of the country but there are fewer of them as time passes. They are definitely a link to the past. So glad that you liked this. Thanks for your comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 29, 2013:

Hi Au fait,

So glad that you liked this hub regarding the covered bridges located in Iowa. This one in this Winterset city park is so pretty combined with that old log cabin...quite a scenic area! Thanks!

vandynegl from Ohio Valley on June 28, 2013:

Very awesome information! I would like to see more covered bridges. We have one in our area.....I also enjoyed the information on the old log home! Great hub!

C E Clark from North Texas on June 27, 2013:

Revisiting this hub in order to pin it to my 'Travel' board. I think there are a lot of people who don't know about these bridges. I never watched that program about The Bridges of Madison Country, and while I know a lot of people did, I bet a lot didn't and those who did may have forgotten. Excellent hub! Going to share with my followers again too because it's vacation planning time.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 10, 2013:

Hi Rajan,

We couldn't have visited this city park during a more beautiful time of year. So glad that you enjoyed his hub. Thanks for the vote, rating and share.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on June 08, 2013:

A rare sight to see covered bridges these days and these pictures of winterset city park are awesome with the spray of different colors of nature at the time of your visit. Enjoyed reading the history too.

Voted up, rated 5 stars and shared.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 30, 2013:

Hi Indian Chef,

So happy to be able to introduce you to such things like covered bridges. There are not nearly as many left as in the past. Thanks for your comment, votes and the share. They were thinking of getting rid of the share button but must have reconsidered. I am glad that it is back!

Indian Chef from New Delhi India on May 30, 2013:

Peggy this is first time I am hearing about covered bridges. You do live in an area of versatility. I like your travel hubs a lot. I might never see these in my real life but I can see the pictures through your hubs. Voting up, interesting, awesome and sharing here since now the hubpage followers button is here again..it wasn't here in morning , i do not know why.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 17, 2013:

Hi Au fait,

When the movie "The Bridges of Madison County" came out, I think that people learned that there were a number of covered bridges in Iowa...but that was some years ago. So your comment comes as a good reminder for those who wish to view them in the middle of our country. Thanks for your comment and your share.

C E Clark from North Texas on May 16, 2013:

Such great photos, and like me before reading this article, I'm betting there are people who don't know there are covered bridges in Iowa. No need to go to the New England states to see them and drive through one. With vacation season almost upon us, this is a place people might want to consider visiting. Going to share this hub again because I think it is so full of great useful information and photos!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 11, 2013:

Hi moonlake,

Iowa is indeed a pretty state. We have also enjoyed driving through various parts of it several times. Thanks for your comment and vote up.

moonlake from America on February 10, 2013:

Beautiful photos. We drive through Iowa often. I love the flowers they have planted along the highway so pretty, cone flowers is one of them. Enjoyed your hub and voted up.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 03, 2013:

Hi Au fait,

Sounds interesting...your spending time on a houseboat in Iowa. Was it on the Mississippi River? You should write a hub about it! I have never vacationed on a houseboat but it sounds intriguing. As to the covered bridges...they are fun to see. There are others in other states, but obviously they are all getting older and most are no longer being actively used. If you ever drive by Winterset, check out the city park. It is a beauty. Thanks for your comment, the 5 star rating, votes and the share.

C E Clark from North Texas on February 02, 2013:

Beautiful photos and videos. I never saw the movie, The Bridges of Madison County, so I didn't realize there were covered bridges in Iowa. Most of my time in Iowa was spent on houseboats and around corn fields (sweltering hot!). There is no heat like the heat in a corn field.

You have another exceptional hub here and great for people who are planning to visit Iowa -- and for people who may now decide to visit as a result of reading and enjoying the photos in this hub!

Gave you 5 more stars, voted up, and BI, and will share!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 08, 2013:

Hi Deborah,

You should visit them before they no longer exist. The old covered bridges are a unique part of history. Most of them wherever they exist no longer support vehicles going over them...just pedestrian traffic. Glad that you enjoyed this hub and thanks for your comment.

Deborah Neyens from Iowa on January 08, 2013:

I've lived in Iowa most of my life and have never seen the Bridges of Madison County. Every time I head south on I-35 and pass the sign, I think about stopping. Maybe next time I will. Thanks for a great hub.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 18, 2012:

Hi TToombso8,

So glad that this hub about a covered bridge in a city park in Winterset, Iowa brought back happy memories for you when you were a child. Sounds like they were lovely...especially because they were shared with your grandfather.

Terrye Toombs from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. on September 18, 2012:

I adore covered bridges! My grandfather in upstate NY used to take us for drives out in the country to visit covered bridges. We would get out and walk across and admire the craftsmanship and woodwork. Excellent hub, Peggy, thank you for the information and the memories of my childhood. :)

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 17, 2012:

Hi JamaGenee,

I also added your link to my John Wayne birthplace hub. Yes...Winterset, Iowa should like our hubs about their pretty and interesting town.

Joanna McKenna from Central Oklahoma on January 17, 2012:

Peggy, thank you so much for placing the link to the Clark Tower hub in a capsule all by itself. Wouldn't it be lovely to know if our hubs about Winterset increase tourism there? lol!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 16, 2012:

Hi JamaGenee,

Look forward to reading about it since it is so near this site and others in the Winterset, Iowa area. Thanks for inserting the link.

Joanna McKenna from Central Oklahoma on January 16, 2012:

Peggy, the Clark Tower hub is up - finally. Hope you enjoy it! https://hubpages.com/travel/Clark-Memorial-Tower-i...

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 08, 2012:

Hi JamaGenee,

Yes, from what you say, you should DEFINITELY go through those photo boxes. Who knows what else you might find? Amazing that you actually have relatives buried in the Winterset, Iowa cemetery! Will look forward to reading your hub regarding that medieval tower in Winterset. Perhaps we can link these hubs together when you have finished yours.

Joanna McKenna from Central Oklahoma on January 07, 2012:

Peggy, I dug out my Winterset photos, scanned the best pix of the medieval tower at the end of the trail in City Park, and will work up a hub on it. Was surprised to find I'd made the trek out to it FOUR times. Was even more surprised to learn one branch of my mother's side settled in Winterset, and some of them are even buried in the Winterset cemetery! Guess I need to go through those photo boxes more often!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 03, 2012:

It appears that CMerritt has written 2 western based stories. Not sure which one used Winterset, Iowa as a backdrop so I read the older one first. Some references to some places in Iowa in it. He has a talent for writing western fiction from what I just read.

Joanna McKenna from Central Oklahoma on January 03, 2012:

CMerrit, I'll be looking for your Winterset hub, too! ;D

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 03, 2012:

Hi CMerritt,

Hope you get to see Winterset, Iowa in person someday. Will have to try and find your hub to see what you have written using Winterset as a setting. Thanks for your comment.

Chris Merritt from Pendleton, Indiana on January 03, 2012:

Very interesting. I enjoyed reading about Winterset.

I wrote a hub, a western fiction, taking place in Winterset. I did some research on this town, before I wrote it.

I have a desire to visit it one day.

up and awesome,


Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 03, 2012:

Hi JamaGenee,

You are correct. I was driving a big car back in those days and did not see the tower. Will look forward to reading your hub about it. Winterset, Iowa's city park is certainly beautiful. Glad we took the time to see it. Thanks for your comment.

Joanna McKenna from Central Oklahoma on January 03, 2012:

Peggy, I'm guessing you and your mother didn't take the narrow road back to the medieval tower wayyyy out at the edge of the wooded area next to the park or you'd have a photo of it here. The "road" isn't much more than a trail for hikers and cyclists, and a sign at the beginning says only small or compact cars should attempt to drive on it. I only drive small cars, so the kids and I made the trek, and it was well worth it.

Since we seem to be jointly promoting the Wonders of Winterset, I'll dig out my photos of the tower and do a hub. Can't recall the details off-hand, but it was built as a memorial to (or by) a man and his wife, and is on a point of land above a valley where viewing the the fall colors would be especially spectacular. ;D

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 30, 2011:

Hi Genna,

Glad to know that you enjoyed this Winterset, Iowa hub with the covered bridge, etc. in the city park. That movie is a favorite with many people. Thanks for your comment.

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on December 30, 2011:

Beautiful journey through Winterset, Peg, and the photos are stunning….such gorgeous color! ‘The Bridges of Madison County’ is a favorite film of mine (being a romantic at heart, it is irresistible), and it is such a pleasure seeing this come to life in your hub. It was interesting to learn why the bridges are covered in the first place, but the reasoning certainly makes a lot of sense. I am happy to know that not all of these charming bridges have been replaced with bigger, more modern structures.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 30, 2011:

Hi Hanna,

Very happy to have been able to show you this beautiful city park in Winterset, Iowa with photos. Thanks for your comment.

Hello, hello, from London, UK on December 30, 2011:

Thank you, Peggy, for showing us such a beautiful piece of country. It was a real pleasure to read your hub and see your pictures.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 29, 2011:

Hi Cheryl,

Winterset, Iowa is a small and charming little town. Am sure that you would enjoy visiting there someday. Thanks for your comment.

Cheryl J. from Houston, TX on December 29, 2011:

I treasure the natural beauty and interesting information you have shared on beautiful Winterset Iowa. Another interesting and beautiful place I will put on my future vacation list. Your photos and videos are wonderful. I love the park, the cedar bridge and the fact that many famous people like John Wayne was born in this small town. Great hub.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 29, 2011:

Hi Darlene,

Glad that you enjoyed learning about this special city park in Winterset, Iowa. Thanks for your comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 29, 2011:

Hi Eddy,

Thanks for commenting and leaving up votes on this Winterset, Iowa hub regarding the beautiful city park with the authentic covered bridge and pioneer log cabin. Not many city parks have both interesting features like this one does. Wishing you a Happy New Year!

Darlene on December 29, 2011:

Beautiful photos. Very interesting

Eiddwen from Wales on December 29, 2011:

Oh Peggy so beautiful as always, your hubs never disappoint and I have to award that up up and away this time again-lol-.

I am looking forward to following you into this New Year ahead to see what gems you have instore for us.

Take care and I hope you have a great run up to the festivities.


Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 28, 2011:


There are not that many covered bridges left in the U.S. just as there are not that many old log cabins. Some people in certain parts of the country build newer log cabin home designs but they are not that common. Thanks for visiting this Winterset, Iowa hub and leaving a comment.

CASE1WORKER from UNITED KINGDOM on December 28, 2011:

Very pretty town. I love those little covered bridges and I quite wrongly think that the US is covered in them! Too much TV watching I think.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 28, 2011:

Hi Charles,

What you said is so true! I would add memories to your list. Thanks for leaving a comment on this Winterset, Iowa hub. Appreciate it!

Charles Criner on December 28, 2011:

Through pictures and words, everything is capable of living forever.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 27, 2011:

Hello freecampingaussie,

Hope that you get to see the City Park in Winterset, Iowa for yourself someday and walk across that covered bridge. Thanks for your comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 27, 2011:

Hello ytsenoh,

My mother and I only saw 2 of the other covered bridges near Winterset, Iowa due to time constraints but as you stated, the movie probably interested more people in seeing and visiting this part of Iowa. Thanks for your visit and comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 27, 2011:

Hi AliciaC,

Yes...covered bridges last so much longer than regular uncovered ones especially if built out of lumber as was the common material used in the early pioneer days of America. Makes sense when one thinks about it. Of course many were replaced over time with wider bridges as most of the original ones were only one lane accommodating horses and buggies and pedestrians. Thanks for your comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 27, 2011:

Hi Gene,

Then you had better stay put! Haha! While Winterset, Iowa is a nice place with covered bridges in the area and log cabins...Dallas has its good points also. :)) Thanks for your comment.

freecampingaussie from Southern Spain on December 27, 2011:

Love your hub with the beautiful pictures ! Makes me want to visit here .

Cathy from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri on December 27, 2011:

Thank you for this hub. I love it. I actually have pictures of the same red covered bridge. Traveling up to Iowa was the last trip my mother, daughter and I took together. We were interested in the bridges after the Bridges movie came out. I was so surprised to see this hub. Thanks for all the information you present here.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on December 27, 2011:

Strangely, I've never thought about why a cover was created for a covered bridge. Your explanation makes so much sense! Thanks for the information and the photos, Peggy. This is another enjoyable hub.

Gene Jasper on December 27, 2011:

Pretty little town. I wouldn't mind living in a small town again. Charlotte would kill me first! There will be no moving away from Dallas shopping!


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