Marker Logo HMdb.org THE HISTORICAL
MARKER DATABASE
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Winterset in Madison County, Iowa — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
 

Middle River Water Trail

Holliwell Covered Bridge (eventually to Bevington)

 
 
Middle River Water Trail Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., February 18, 2014
1. Middle River Water Trail Marker
Inscription.

[Historical excerpts from marker]
The Middle River has its origin in south-central Guthrie County. However, the navigable section of Middle River begins in east-central Adair County near Middle River Forest County Park. Middle River is a scenic stream that flows easterly through a mixture of lazy country side of croplands and pasture, rolling forested hills and limestone bluffs. It twists and turns through these landforms creating a moderately challenging paddle, especially at high or low water levels. This stream provides an exciting paddle with occasional chutes and ledges that can be navigated with moderate effort. Water levels are most enjoyable for paddling in spring, early summer and fall.

Along with the natural beauty found along Middle River, there are also a few man-made attractions that add to the scenery and water-trail experience. Spanning the river is two of Madison County's famous "Bridges of Madison County", Roseman Covered Bridge and Holliwell Covered Bridge. Paddlers must also portage around the historic "ford" at Pammel Park that was built in the early 1900's, and while making portage one can also catch a glimpse of the "Harmon Tunnel" originally constructed in 1858.

Middle River eventually empties into the Des Moines River near Carlisle in northern Warren County - with this navigable
Middle River Water Trail Marker and Holliwell Covered Bridge image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., February 18, 2014
2. Middle River Water Trail Marker and Holliwell Covered Bridge
Looking southeast
section of river being approximately 100 miles in length. The designated Middle River Water Trail begins at Middle River Forest County Park in Adair County and currently ends at the historic Holliwell Covered Bridge approximately 3½ miles SE of Winterset, covering a distance of just over 45 miles. Enjoy your exploration of Middle River!

Cultural History
The most interesting historical and cultural aspects along this stretch of Middle River are obviously the Holliwell Covered Bridge and the beautiful natural resources that define the Middle River Valley. The Holliwell Bridge was one of the first covered bridges built in Madison County as it crossed Middle River on the Winterset Indianola Road, which was considered the main highway carrying pioneers heading west through Winterset. The people came for the rich soil they called the Hoosier Prairie, and the abundant streams. There were forests along these streams of sugar maple, black walnut and towering cotton woods. Buffalo, elk and deer roamed the woods and prairie. There was lumber and stone for building. Prairie Rivers like the Middle River are living representatives of the resources that provided for the life we now enjoy. In 1880, Holliwell Bridge replaced the original open wood frame bridge that was first constructed in 1855. Holliwell is notably the longest of the covered bridges. Its structure
Holliwell Covered Bridge image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., February 18, 2014
3. Holliwell Covered Bridge
Northwest entrance
is also very unique, being of the covered wood bow truss type. The two center top beams are 39 feet long and arc from 9' to 13.2' above the floor. The two end top beams are 16 feet long and arc from 0' to 9' above the floor. The total length of the main bow truss span is 110 feet, while the approaches span 60 feet for a total length of 170 feet.

Geology
Madison County escaped the most recent glaciations of approximately 12,000 to 15,000 years ago and is thus part of the Southern Iowa Drift Plain. The exterior appearance of Madison County is prominently dominated by the rolling hills which are shaped and supported by thick layers of limestone and shale formed millions of years ago during the era when a vast area of the Midwest was part of the Carboniferous Sea. The geology of Madison County becomes most striking when canoeing our rivers. Dispersed primarily through the central region of Madison County, majestic limestone walls and cliffs, with layers of shale intermixed, greet river users, with the most prominent high cliffs over 140' in height, found along Middle River about 1 mile above Pammel Park.
 
Erected by Iowa Dept of Natural Resources, Iowa Water Trails, and Madison County and Adair County Conservation Boards.
 
Location. 41° 19.393′ N,
Holliwell Covered Bridge Trusswork image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., February 18, 2014
4. Holliwell Covered Bridge Trusswork
93° 57.606′ W. Marker is near Winterset, Iowa, in Madison County. Marker is on Holliwell Bridge Road, on the right when traveling east. Click for map. Marker and bridge are about 3.5 miles SE of Winterset. Marker is in this post office area: Winterset IA 50273, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. The Delicious Apple (approx. 2.3 miles away); Cutler - Donahoe Covered Bridge - 1870 (approx. 2.4 miles away); Winterset World War I Memorial (approx. 2.6 miles away); Winterset Veterans Memorial (approx. 2.6 miles away); Winterset Civil War Memorial (approx. 2.8 miles away); 101 North John Wayne Drive (approx. 2.9 miles away); 103 North John Wayne Drive (approx. 2.9 miles away); 105 North John Wayne Drive (approx. 2.9 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Winterset.
 
Also see . . .
1. Middle River Water Trail Dedicated Oct. 1 (2011). (Submitted on March 18, 2014, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
2. Madison County Parks Water Trail. (Submitted on March 18, 2014, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
3. At Play: River Relationships (The Iowan). (Submitted on March 18, 2014, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
4. The Bridges of Madison County Touring Options. (Submitted on March 18, 2014, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
5. Map of the Bridges of Madison County. (Submitted on March 18, 2014, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
6. Holliwell Covered Bridge at bridgehunter.com
Holliwell Covered Bridge Trusswork Detail image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., February 18, 2014
5. Holliwell Covered Bridge Trusswork Detail
. (Submitted on March 18, 2014, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
 
Categories. Bridges & ViaductsEnvironmentMan-Made FeaturesWaterways & Vessels
 
Holliwell Covered Bridge image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., February 18, 2014
6. Holliwell Covered Bridge
Southeast entrance
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 301 times since then and 2 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on , by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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