Winterset, Ia. - The Cedar Bridge, made famous in "The Bridges of Madison County," was destroyed by fire Tuesday, September 3, 2002. The state fire marshal's office has confirmed that this was an arson fire.
A passer-by called 911 at 8:28 p.m. to report the fire. Firefighters arrived in 15 minutes, however, the wooden structure burned so quickly it couldn't be saved.
The Cedar Bridge was built in 1883 by Benton Jones using the Town Truss. Seventy-seven feet long it crossed Cedar Creek serving U.S. Route 169 two miles northeast of Winterset. It was one of six covered bridges surviving in Madison County and the last in that county still carrying traffic. It was renovated in 1998 at a cost of $128,000.
Ten covered bridges still stand in Iowa in four counties. All of them are on the National Register of Historic Places. The last Madison County covered bridge destroyed by fire was the McBride Bridge, which was torched by an arsonist in October 1983.
The Cedar Bridge became internationally famous after it appeared in the movie The Bridges of Madison County, based on the novel by Robert Waller. The author has offered a reward of $10,000 for information leading to the arrest of the perpetrator.
A meeting is planned for Monday, September 9, to decide what should be done and how much reconstruction would cost. Such a project could cost between $750,000 and $1 million, it was thought. The bridge was insured for $285,000.
[This article is based on reports published in the Des Moines Register and other references. Bridgers can follow the developing story on www.dmregister.com - Editor]