Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Holliwell and Hogback Covered Bridges

We visited the Holliwell Bridge (built 1880) and the Hogback Bridge (1884) in Madison County, Iowa in May on our Winterset trip.  Both bridges were built by Benton Jones.  Of the six covered bridges still standing in the county, Holliwell is the longest, and Hogback was the last to be built.  Hogback is named after a nearby limestone ridge.
In the photos below, you may notice the difference in bridge structure.  The Hogback bridge below top left was built using the Town lattice truss system, while the Holliwell bridge was built with a covered wood bow truss. 
The bridges have been used as an area guest book for over a century, and their interiors are covered with graffiti.  The oldest initials we found were "J.W.B." from 1892.  I imagine there may be older initials that we couldn't find or that had faded--so he (or she) probably shouldn't get all the blame--but I wonder if J.W.B. realized what he was starting when he carved his initials in the bridge! 
We noticed one couple signed in from Thailand, as did a family from Alaska...and so many others!  Some people included witty sayings.  One of my favorites was the rather hypocritical remark "Please do not write on the bridges!"  I'm not fond of graffiti, but it was interesting to see what everyone had written. 
There were many tourists at the Holliwell Bridge.  It was Memorial Day weekend, and a race was also going through the area.  We had plenty of time to admire that bridge, but it was getting late by the time we visited Hogback, so our visit there was brief.  
I'm glad we stopped to see some of Madison County's covered bridges.
"Prayer is a bridge from your mess to God's rest."  --Unknown
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54 comments:

  1. Very cool--I would have enjoyed reading all the different inscriptions, too. I know Michigan has a few covered bridges left, as well, but I never made it around to go visit them.

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    1. I remember you made an effort to visit interesting places before you left the states. It's hard to see everything though!

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  2. Interesting bridges. I've only seen them in pictures or movies.

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    1. Same here until I visited Madison County; I'm glad I had the chance to see these in person!

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  3. I've long been interested in covered bridges. the struts and beams in these two bridges is really great - and an irresistible surface for carvings!
    thanks for sharing!

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    1. Apparently people do have trouble resisting that urge! The Hogback bridge has a "Dreamer Journal" in a little box for anyone who doesn't want to write on the bridges to sign.

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  4. Hi Bethany! I am finally back blogging and visiting! I love covered bridges and these always make me think of the book and movie Bridges of Madison County. GREAT photos! xo Diana

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    1. I believe the Holliwell Bridge is the bridge shown in the movie. Thanks for stopping by, Diana!

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  5. Bethany, this is a wonderful covered bridge, and I enjoyed the photo tour very much. Too bad so many have defaced it.
    Have a great weekend!

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    1. It's sad, but it does add another element of interest at the same time. You have a great weekend as well!

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  6. Lovely photos of the covered bridge! It looks like it was a good day for photographs. The covered bridges I have seen all have 'carvings' from visitors on them too. Not sure why people think it is okay to do this.

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    1. Like with so many other things, it's probably "ok" because "everyone else does it."

      For the record (I don't want to be a hypocrite), I did sign my name up in the clock works room at the Grundy County Courthouse. But then our guide encouraged us too, as it's a sort of guest book, like (apparently) the bridges.

      Still it's hard to forget "Fools' names and fools' faces appear in public places." That's what my grandparents taught my father, and he's passed their advice on to us.

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  7. Bethant the bridges are lovely in Poland covered bridges are not common.

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  8. they're really neat. a rare view of americana. :)

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  9. Love covered bridges! We have quite a few here in Oregon too.

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  10. Oh, what fun! I find covered bridges to be so beautiful and romantic :) Happy October! Hugs

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  11. The bridges had a practical use, but are beautiful works of art as well...practical art :) Thanks for sharing some of the interesting history of them, Bethany. I put a picture of a covered bridge that is south of where I now live in one of my posts several years ago, but I did not look up its history or consider how it was constructed and this post encourages my curiosity! xx

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    1. When you do find out about its history you could do another post on it. I don't believe I saw your original post (most likely I hadn't "met" you yet).

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  12. You got inside the bridge and it is big and clear. Great takes. Thanks for sharing. Love all.

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  13. These are wonderful. - The covered bridges are so unique. I think it's kind of fun that people sign them like that.

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    1. It's fun to read, and I think the graffiti is accepted by general consensus.

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  14. Bethany, this is a great bridge! They just don't make them like this anymore!

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    1. Everything is new and "improved" these days. ;)

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  15. I love covered bridges. This one is very pretty and I would enjoy reading all those comments too.

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    1. Some of the comments had me pondering for a while. One was, "Life is a bridge to be crossed enthusiastically many times." Seems that quote would be better off without the last two words, as we only have the chance to cross the "bridge of life" once, but then life is a bridge and many/all people cross it. I wonder what the intended meaning of the remark was.

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  16. That is a gorgeous covered bridge. Love the details you captured inside the bridge, the wood criss crossing.

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    1. Thanks Stephanie! They are neat bridges.

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  17. They are amazing bridges....the bridges of Madison County...so distinct thanks to Clint and Meryl! Interesting about the graffiti...did you know there is graffiti on the interior walls of Hampton Court in England dating back to the 1600's...fortunately no modern scribbles.

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    1. Oh wow, graffiti from the 1600s?! That must be interesting to see.

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  18. Fantastic shots of the bridge. Love the close ups

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  19. I love covered bridges it is so exciting when you come across one and you didn't know it was there, I don't care for graffiti either but like you said it is interesting to see how far people have come from and how old they are.

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    1. We had to look for these, but I do imagine it would be neat to just drive by and see one!

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  20. Neat-looking bridges! I liked the photos of the inside structure. And that one hypocritical remark...Hah! :P

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  21. These bridges are so beautiful! How romantic would it be to carve your initials inside with your sweetheart? (Although I know it is graffiti and I wouldn't do it!) The craftsmanship is outstanding. The movie is one of my very favorites. I grew up in New England we had covered bridges there, too. These bring back sweet memories. x Karen

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Karen! I imagine the bridges in New England are probably older than these; they would be neat to see. You must have wonderful memories.

      Obviously a lot of couples must consider carving/writing their initials together as romantic... but I'd have to disagree in principle: love should be constructive rather than destructive. I think I'd rather walk through a cemetery (not sure how that's constructive, but maybe I could pull weeds around the old headstones?), but to each his/her own I guess.

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  22. The bridges are so pretty! I enjoyed both the book and the movie and would love to spend some time there just reading all the graffiti. So much better than those silly "love locks" that I've seen on bridges in Europe, especially Paris, where the weight of them is causing parts of the bridges to fall into the river. Quite an eyesore!

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    1. It is interesting reading what people have written and where they're from, and trying to find the oldest graffiti. It's too bad about the damage the love locks have done.

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  23. Hi Bethany, Just generally speaking I find most bridges to be fascinating and this one is no exeption. Seriously, if I had it all to do over again I might try to become an engineer and specialize in bridge design and construction. Your post had me wondering ... Why build covered bridges? I did a quick Google and came up with this, which you may find interesting: "The actual truth to it all is that the bridges were covered to protect the mighty wooden trusses that held the bridge together. If the trusses were left to the sun, wind, and rain, the life expectancy was only about ten years. When they were covered, their life span increased tenfold." Thanks, as always, for sharing your excellent blog!

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    1. Thanks for sharing the information on why covered bridges are built. I generally find bridges fascinating as well.

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  24. How neat!!!! So unlike covered bridges in this area.

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  25. There's so much to love about covered bridges but it's a pity that so many people feel they need to leave their initials and graffiti on them.

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    1. It's nice that someone thought to add a "Dreamer Journal" at the Hogback bridge, so people can put their urge to write something into action in a book instead of on the bridge.

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  26. Gorgeous images! I love the contrast between the red, green and blue shades. And initials from 1892! That's a long way back to start the trend :)

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    1. Indeed. People have been carving/writing on that bridge for the past 123 years!

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  27. Wonderful covered bridge! Beautiful photos of it and the surrounding countryside.

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    1. Thanks Marie! It was a treat to see the covered bridges.

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