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Rebuild Cedar Bridge Committee Starts GoFundMe Campaign

1/31/2018

Winterset, Iowa — The Rebuild Cedar Bridge Committee in Madison County has started a campaign on GoFundMe.com to try to finish fundraising in an effort to rebuild the iconic covered bridge destroyed by arsonists in April 2017. Approximately $70,000 is still needed to reach the $597,076 estimated cost to rebuild the bridge. They are hoping that fans of Madison County, the covered bridges, the book, movie or play, or just of small rural communities in general will consider making a donation through GoFundMe at www.gofundme.com/rebuildcedarbridge.

Madison County officials were called to the Cedar Bridge north of Winterset around 6 a.m. on April 15, 2017. The bridge was fully engulfed in flames when they arrived. Three teenagers have been charged with the arson — one has pleaded guilty to second-degree arson, and the other two are awaiting trial.

The original Cedar Bridge was built in 1883 and burned down in 2002. Investigators determined the fire to be arson, but no arrests were ever made. It cost $772,824 to build a replica of the 130-foot bridge, and with additional expenses costing more than $1 million before it reopened in 2004.

According to Madison County Engineer Todd Hagan, the cost to rebuild the bridge this time is an estimated $597,076. Some modifications will have to be made to the original design to make it affordable; however, it will be built to allow vehicle traffic again. All six covered bridges in Madison County are now insured (something that was out of reach financially after the 2002 arson) and will be fitted with new surveillance technology.

Donations and pledges to rebuild Cedar Bridge have been secured from the following organizations: Madison County Supervisors, Greater Madison County Community Foundation, Farmers and Merchants State Bank, Madison County Realty, American State Bank, Union State Bank, John Wayne Birthplace and Museum, City of Winterset, Farmers Electric Cooperative, Co-Bank, Winterset Rotary Club, Winterset Lions Club, Casper Farms, and the Madison County Cattlemen, among others. Numerous fundraisers have been held in the community, and with individual pledges and donations, the amount raised so far totals $249,500. A grant in the amount of $275,770 has been awarded by The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, bringing the current total raised to $525,270.

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The bridge is famous for its appearances in literature and television. It was on the cover of the novel “The Bridges of Madison County,” was the site of an Oprah Winfrey show in 1993, and a source of local pride, identity and tourism revenue for the small, rural community of Winterset. Hundreds of thousands of tourists from around the world have visited the bridge over the years. It was the only one of the six remaining covered bridges still open to vehicle traffic, and a favorite rental location for weddings, reunions and other celebrations. Madison County recently received an Iowa Scenic Byways designation and Cedar Bridge is included as one of the sites. It is also included in future plans connecting the Cedar Lake Recreation Area trailways with Jurgenson Bridge.

The committee hopes the GoFundMe campaign will bring them closer to finishing the fundraising needed, so that once plans are finalized, they may start taking bids on the rebuild and break ground this fall. 

One Comment

  1. I have visited the Cedar Bridge twice, once in 2016 (we saw all seven bridges) while on vacation from California and again in 2017 because I loved the setting and wanted to take photos of my husband and I for our anniversary. I was so saddened and angry to see and then hear of the arson fire that took this wonderful piece of history again.
    My question is, are the three people responsible for this arson being held financially responsible? They have many years ahead of them that they could be paying restitution.

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