Monday, September 12, 2011

The Bridges and Rain of Madison County

Due to my wife being on call on Sunday of Labor Day which means she worked from early Sunday morning straight through to mid-Monday morning, we spent the weekend up in the Urban Jungle and had Saturday free to do something. We decided a day trip was in order and finally after all this time, we decided to head to Madison county and see those covered bridges that Clint Eastwood made so famous in the movie which I have yet to see or the book by Robert Waller I have yet to read. Unfortunately, Saturday rained on us off an on all day with periods of heavy down pours and even the off times still producing a light mist so none of the pictures are the greatest.

The first one we saw was Hogback which we had to ourselves. It was built in 1884 and is 97 feet long. As I would later learn, it is in its original position, a trait shared with only two other of the five remaining bridges where were among 19 that once graced this county. The bridge is named after the limestone ridge that forms the west side of the valley.

The next bridge we arrived at during a heavy downpour of rain was Cedar. It was the only bridge that you could actually drive across and I was actually leery to drive across a bridge originally built in 1883. But I needn't have worried because the Cedar bridge was actually burnt by an arsonist in September of 2002 and this was a replica. Not only was it a replica but it is actually 1.3 miles east of where it was originally located. For those who have have read the book it is the bridge where Francesca meets Robert to take some pictures. Because it was raining and close to a main road which meant that it got more traffic than many of the others, we just drove across pausing only to take this picture and drove on to the next one.

The Cutler-Donahoe covered bridge can be found in a city park in Winterset which obviously was not its original location. It was built in 1870 and originally located near Bevington, Iowa which straddles both Madison and Warren counties. I'm assuming this bridge was on the Madison side of the county line but wouldn't place money on it. It is the only hyphenated bridge of the six.

Lightening was snapping through the sky when we pulled up to the Roseman covered bridge and I had just enough time to hustle down the river bank to snap this picture before the rain came down in buckets. We ended up spending lots of time on this bridge waiting out the rain and taking shadow pictures which I will probably make the subject of another post. The Roseman bridge was built in 1883 and is said to be haunted because in 1892 two sheriff's posses trapped a county jail escapee in the bridge. Legend says that the man cried out, rose up straight through the roof of the bridge and disappeared. I didn't see any ghosts during our extended time there. It is the second of three bridges that are in their original location and was the main bridge seen in the movie. I guess since it had been recently renovated before the movie, crews were sent down to 'age' the bridge for the movie and then 'un-age' it afterwards.

Because it was pouring rain, we drove back into Winterset for an early lunch and to cross a few more non-bridge site seeing items off our list before returning to our covered bridge tour. The next bridge was Holliwell and was built in 1880. At 122 feet long, it is the longest of the covered bridges remaining in Madison county and is built over the Middle river and remains at it's original location. I should mention that the biggest reason these bridges 'moved' was that although they were good for horse drawn vehicles and even today's gas powered vehicles one at a time, they were hard for farmers to drive through with tractors and equipment. So lots of pressure was put on the county to move these bridges which they did to three of them. The other three all had a bypass built around them complete with modern concrete bridge for the farmers to use and allow the covered bridges to remain unmolested.

The last bridge located very near I-35 was the Imes covered bridge which was built in 1870 and is the oldest of the surviving Madison county covered bridges. This bridge began life over the Middle river near Patterson but was moved in 1887 to a spot over Clinton Creek. Where it is now is over some no name ravine on the east side of St. Charles.

The insides of all these bridges were built with massive timbers which is exactly why they were covered bridges to begin with. The locals found it much easier and less expensive to build and maintain roofs over the bridges than to replace all those massive timbers every few years due to natural weathering. I suspect the sidewalls to all the bridges kept the horses focused on the road ahead instead of what was underneath them. Whatever the reasons, the walls and roofs had done their jobs because I could still see original wood doweling holding the boards together throughout the bridges.


Vince said...

You have the pure whimsy of covering the bridge. While at the same time being soooooo puritan that there isn't one extraneous bit of decoration.
It's like putting on a kilt and rejecting any colour through it.

R. Sherman said...

I think there are only a couple of covered bridges left in Missouri and one of them is about four miles from my house. It's a shame that vandals show up to deface it occasionally, but fortunately, no one's tried to burn it. Such disrespect of history really sickens me.

That said, thanks for the tour. I've not seen the movie or read the book, but my wife tells me they're both good.


Bone said...

It's cool that they've been preserved, at least somewhat, even if some of them were moved.

We had an old drawbridge around here that they demolished several years back I wish they'd have kept.

Ed said...

Vince - On a side note I thought about you this weekend and wondered if you were watching the same rugby match I was. That was the first time I ever watched that sport and I'm not sure if I still understand how it is played.

R. Sherman - The Iowan versions have sort of a solution against graffiti vandals anyway which I cover in an upcoming post.

Bone - In this case, I think Hollywood is to thank for their preservation. I have a sense that it the movie hadn't been made, they would be down to less than five in number.

Vince said...

There is only one thing to know about rugby. The English dreamt it up and the rest of us make certain that we never allow them to win since.
You lost yesterday, we will lose soon enough for they are to old and to tight in the muscle. But no matter, as long as England doesn't win the entire thing and the whole team get Knighted. That's just pure sickening.

p.s. how are you getting on with the new Missal.

Murf said...

Nice pictures. I've only read the book which I enjoyed but it was probably too 'chick lit' for a tough guy like you. :-)

Ed said...

Vince - Missal? The only thing that means to me is a liturgical book we Catholics use to tell us what the sermon will be on any given day and we haven't had a new one since Christmas of last year.

Murf - I would probably read it if it were non-fiction and I might read if it were good fiction but romance fiction genre on my reading list is somewhere between hell freezing over and the U.S. abolishment of taxes.

Vince said...

They started a new one yesterday. The old gender neutral one from the 60's was jettisoned. Pretty much the last hurrah of JP2

Ed said...

Vince - I hadn't heard that. Learn something new everyday...

warren said...

The geometrics inside the last pic are amazing! Pretty cool and much more pleasing to the eye than lots of new buildings you see...