MADISON COUNTY, Iowa — Community members gathered Saturday to celebrate the reopening of the Cedar Covered Bridge.
In 2017, the bridge fell victim to arson for a second time in the last 15 years and was a total loss.
Over $720,000 was raised to restore the bridge to its original state.
Madison County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Heather Riley said improvements have been made to the new Cedar Covered Bridge.
“It’s got steel bones this time. So previously, there were wood trusses with Cedar Bridge so now it’s steel just in case this happens again. We don’t want to start from scratch again and go another $720,000,” Riley said.
The bridge now has cameras and a fire suppression system installed. People are able to drive over it. In total, it took 29 months to restore the bridge.
Harden County resident Rosey Swenson said the bridge has always been a place to create family memories.
“It was always a mother-daughter kind of day, so over the years we come and go to the festival and go through town and then we drive around and visit different bridges,” Swenson said.
Madison County resident Dayna Nuzum said one of her favorite memories was seeing Oprah Winfrey in town.
“Oprah Winfrey actually had her show right over there and that was really neat. It was fun to have her here in town,” Nuzum said.
The Cedar Covered Bridge was originally built in 1883 and came in the spotlight after James Waller’s novel “The Bridges of Madison County” was published and created into a movie.
“It’s part of us and has been ever since I was a little girl. It’s just important to be here and our legacy lives on,” Nuzum said.
The opening falls under the 50th anniversary of the Covered Bridge Festival that lasts through Oct. 13.