‘The Bridges of Madison County’ movie and book are known worldwide. I’m fortunate to have been born and raised in Iowa with many family members who still reside in the beautiful state. Not only was fall color and farm scenes on my shot list, the infamous bridges were too.
I talked two of my aunts into making the day trip with me. We planned to visit the bridges, the birthplace of John Wayne and whatever else we could find. Our first stop was at The St. Charles Welcome Center where you can get a map of Winterset, Iowa showing the locations of the bridges and lots of information of other popular sites.
With our map in hand, we were on our way to visit the covered bridges. Along the way we came to Madison County Winery and decided to stop for a tasting. We were treated to 5 wine tastings at no charge! With one of my aunt’s being the chauffeur for the day, I tried 5 different wines. And bought 3 bottles, 1 for my sister and 2 for me! The grounds were beautiful with just a bit of fall color showing. Definitely a place to photograph at the right time of day, which wasn’t when we were there.
Next stop was the Holliwell Bridge, which is featured in the movie. It was about high noon when we were there, worst time of day for landscape photography on a sunny day. However, I was able to make an image from inside the bridge looking down the gravel road. There was just enough fall color peaking through the tree line to the right. The bright sunlight reflecting just outside of the bridge lit up the inside just enough. No HDR image required.
Then off to see the Cutler-Donahoe bridge which has been moved to Winterset’s City Park. Interesting this bridge has two names. Typically a bridge was named after the family that lived closest to the bridge. Two families claimed “naming rights” and so the bridge is named after both.
By this time we were ready for lunch and where else would we go but the North Side Cafe also featured in the movie! It looks slightly different than in the movie, however, the feel of a small town diner is still there.
After lunch it was time to drive by the birthplace of John Wayne. The house is very small and only a one bedroom. We did take the tour, however, I was disappointed only a few of the items actually belonged to “The Duke”. No photography is allowed inside the home per the family’s request.
And finally, we were off to see the bridge we were most excited about, the Roseman Bridge. The area looks slightly different than it did in the movie. You can no longer drive across the bridge and part of the gravel road is now overgrown with grass and probably wildflowers in the summer. We wandered around trying to recall exactly where Robert Kincaid and Francesca stood in the movie. The three of us all said we should have watched the movie before our outing! At one point I was very close to the river in tall grass watching very closely where I stepped. Not once, but twice earlier in the day we had been warned to watch for rattlesnakes. Seriously! I thought they had been left back in the Arizona desert.
Unfortunately, Francesca’s home was burned due to arson in 2002 and is no longer open to the public. So we scratched that home from our list of places to see. However, on our map we were intrigued with seeing Howell’s Dried Florals and Greenhouse that was near the home. What a great find! They were having a fall festival with tons of pumpkins, mums and pony rides for the kids. And the barn where the dry the flowers that they grow was truly amazing! Flowers are my favorite subject to shoot and this place was incredible. If we had stopped there first, I would have told my aunts to pick me on their way home. Rows of flowers still in bloom with lots of bees and butterflies flying around. What I call macro heaven! Definitely a place I would want to get permission to spend more time shooting.
Maybe another trip to Iowa in the summer should be planned. Besides the restored tall grass prairie at the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site is on my list for summer shooting too.
And last, but not least. Both of my aunts are known for playing practical jokes. One had my compact camera earlier in the day and they decided to take a selfie as a surprise for me. Well, if I didn’t post it here, I wouldn’t have learned how to play practical jokes and failed the lesson! So, here it is and I’m sure paybacks will be coming!