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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography
Holliwell Bridge
Historic Madison County Covered Bridge
Winterset, IA

Holliwell Bridge

• Location: 3 Miles Southeast Of Winterset.
• Construction: Wood Truss, Covered.
• Length: 122 Feet.
• Date Built: 1880, Bypassed 1986, Renovated In 1995.
The Holliwell Bridge was extensively documented in a Historic American Engineering Record document in 2002. Much of the information here comes from that document, which is indexed as IA0440 by the Library of Congress.

The first bridge spanning the Middle River near the Holliwell farm was built in the winter of 1854 to 1855. That bridge was a timber bridge supported by piles driven into the riverbed. It featured a 40 foot long main span. It washed out in the flood of 1876. Three years later, the Madison County Board of Supervisors approved a new bridge. It was completed in June, 1880. This replacement bridge carried traffic until it was bypassed in 1986. It was extensively renovated in 1995.

The new bridge was a wooden covered bridge featuring the Town Truss design. The lower bridge beam was 122 feet long, with the main span being 110 feet. That suggests that the piers were located about 6 feet from each end of the bridge. The northwest end of the bridge has a 49 foot long approach span, while the approach span on the southeast end is only 14 feet long. A unique feature of the Holliwell Bridge is an arch built into the structure. The other larger covered bridges remaining in Madison County have a ‘queenpost’ truss that has a horizontal beam at the top of the truss, with two supports running at an angle from the piers holding up this horizontal beam. On the Holliwell Bridge, this queenpost truss is a series of 14 inch wide planks joined end to end to form a long sweeping arch.

The Cedar Bridge played a central role in the novel ‘The Bridges Of Madison County.’ However, in the film, it was the Holliwell Bridge that played this key role when the book was adapted for the big screen.

The photo above is looking west into the afternoon sun towards the northeast face of the Holliwell Bridge. The vantage point is the newer concrete bridge on Holliwell Bridge Road that bypassed this covered bridge. The photo below is looking south towards the northwest bridge portal from the edge of Holliwell Bridge Road.

Holliwell Bridge
Holliwell Bridge
These two photos are views looking east towards the Holliwell Bridge from along the riverbank on the north side of the Middle River. The photo above from about the level of the bridge deck. The photo below is a view of the main bridge span from near the waterline.

Holliwell Bridge
Holliwell Bridge
These two photos are views of the northwest bridge portal. The photo above is looking slightly to the side of the bridge, while the photo below is looking down the length of the bridge deck. The angled from of the bridge creates an optical illusion that makes the bridge look like it is leaning to the side.

Holliwell Bridge
Holliwell Bridge
The photo above is the southeast bridge portal. It is blocked with barricades due to being so close to the old roadway leading to the bridge. The other end is also blocked off, but the barricades are located 165 feet from the bridge as opposed to right at the bridge portal on this end of the structure. The photo below is the bridge deck. The bridge deck planks run on a diagonal, in contrast to all of the other Madison County covered bridges where the floor boards run lengthwise along the bridge deck.

Holliwell Bridge
Holliwell Bridge
The photo above is the bridge truss structure on the side of the bridge. This bridge features a long curved beam, which acts like an arch. This is the only covered bridge in Madison County to feature such a design. The photo above is the roof structure.

Holliwell Bridge
Holliwell Bridge
The photo above is the bridge name sign located above one of the portals. The photo below is a guide sign for tourists.

Holliwell Bridge

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