Re-covering a bridge to the past
Cedar Bridge, Madison County. Drawing by Kenneth F. Dunker, ©2002
The frame of the Cedar Bridge during reconstruction in the summer of 2004.
Some of the charred remains of the original bridge. Photos above courtesy of Kenneth F. Dunker, Iowa DOT.
Exterior and interior views of the completely rebuilt Cedar Bridge as seen in late August 2004. Photos courtesy of David M. Stember, Iowa DOT.
In September 2002, the 119-year-old Cedar Bridge in Madison County went up in flames at the hands of an arsonist. With the bridge’s destruction, only five covered bridges remain of the original 19 built in the county in the 19th century.
Cedar Bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It had been restored in 1998 at a cost of more than $125,000.
According to the county’s website, when the 19 bridges were originally built, “[they] were covered by order of the County Board of Supervisors to help preserve the large flooring timbers, which were more expensive to replace than the lumber used to cover the bridge sides and roof.”
Madison County is proud to report that Cedar Bridge has recently been reconstructed, and the contractor used the same methods and materials used in the bridge’s original construction. Visitors to the annual Covered Bridge Festival during the second weekend in October will be able to see the completed structure.
Ken Dunker, an engineer at the Iowa DOT, has been photographing and drawing Madison County’s historic bridges for several years. On the cover of this issue is Ken’s drawing of the Cedar Bridge before it was destroyed by arson in 2002. (Sets of note cards and posters featuring his drawings of six of the bridges are available through the Lincoln Way Chapter of the American Red Cross.)
For more information
Find information about all the covered bridges of Madison County online, www.madisoncounty.com/bridge.html.