The Bridges of Madison County, 1995
visit the film locations
The Bridges of Madison County location: scattering the ashes: The Roseman Bridge, Winterset, Iowa
Photograph: iStockphoto © Bartosz Wardzinski
The nearest America has come to David Lean’s classic Brief Encounter, with tight-assed mid-West puritanism standing in for buttoned-up English repression.
Madison County is a real district of Iowa (it’s the birthplace of John Wayne), and the bridges are for real too. You’ll find them in the area of Winterset, the town Francesca Johnson (Meryl Streep) visits to buy her new frock, and where scarlet woman Lucy is ostracised by the locals.
Winterset is about 30 miles southwest of Des Moines, on I-169. The unique bridges were covered by order of the county, using cheap lumber to protect the expensive flooring timbers. Of the original 19, which were named for the closest resident, only six remain.
The Bridges of Madison County location: Francesca and Robert meet up: The Holliwell Bridge, Winterset, Iowa
Photograph: Flickr © Joe Utsler/CrazyUncleJoe
The bridges seen in the movie are 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.
The Bridges of Madison County location: the cafe in town: The Northside Cafe, West Jefferson Street, Winterset, Iowa
Photograph: Flickr © Tyrgyzistan
Francesca’s 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 cafe is the Northside Cafe, 61 West Jefferson Street, Winterset.
The general store is M Young & Co feed store building, which has since been demolished. A closed Conoco gas station became the 1965 Texaco station it’s now the Memory Station gift shop. The Blue Note Lounge filmed inside Winterset’s Corner Tavern, now the Pheasant Run, 103 South John Wayne Drive (though the exterior is another building).
The stone bridge, where Francesca and Robert enjoy a picnic getaway, 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.