The 1995 film “The Bridges of Madison County” takes place in Iowa, where the film was likewise shot. The farmhouse where Francesca Johnson, played by Meryl Streep, lives can be found in Cumming, Iowa. Here Fransesca meets Robert Kincaid, a photojournalist from National Geographic visiting the area of photograph the covered bridges of Madison County.
The house was built in 1870 by an Argentinian sea captain named Nicholas Thompson, who later sold the house and surrounding land to Joseph Mead. The home has remained with his family since that time. After searching over 150 properties for the perfect farmhouse, on the final day of scouting, the filmmakers discovered the home by helicopter. By the time Eastwood and his crew found the home, it had sat vacant for over thirty years in disrepair. The production completely restored the property and made use of both the interiors and exteriors for the film.
After the success of the film, the owners opened up the home to tours. Much like another famous filming location in Iowa, the house and baseball field from “Field Of Dreams,” the home attracted many tourists, who could visit inside and outside the grounds. This ended on October 6, 2003, when arsonists destroyed part of the home. The northwest corner was largely destroyed, which contained memorabilia for the film, including photos and scripts, many of which were lost forever.
After the fire, the tours ceased and the home was never restored. The area in back damaged most heavily by the fire remains completely open and exposed to the elements. The area is now fenced off from visitors and the home is in poor condition. You can in fact clearly see the home from the gravel road out front, which is public. However, it sits a short distance back from the road. The long driveway up to the home is private and closed to the public. With the home empty, fire damaged and completely exposed for decades, we’re not sure how long it will remain standing. For now, however, it remains somewhat in tact for anyone willing to make their way out to see it.
LOCATION: 3255 130th St, Cumming, IA 50061 (GPS coordinates: 41°28’03.1″N 93°49’43.9″W)
Several covered bridges are featured in the film. The Roseman Covered Bridge plays a key role in the film, when Fransesca first navigates Robert to it in the early part of the story. Roseman Covered Bridge was built in 1883. One of the final two covered bridges ever built in Madison County, it carried motorists for nearly one hundred years before being decommissioned. While most other covered bridges in the area have since been demolished, Roseman Covered Bridge remains standing and is open to the public.
LOCATION: 2451 Elderberry Ave, Winterset, IA 50273
When Robert first arrives with Fransesca, he heads down to this area to set up his camera.
Here is the view Robert was scouting to photograph. This view is also seen on the theatrical poster.
Fransesca walks around this area of the bridge while Robert works.
After getting a drink from the truck, Fransesca comes to the opposite side of the bridge to find Robert picking flowers for her in this area. Fransesca teases Robert that the flowers are poisonous.
The bridge is featured again in the closing scenes of the film.
The locations for “The Bridges of Madison County” are unique in that many of them are old and historic, yet remain standing today. Tucked away from the destination locations of America, they remain a hidden treasure for film lovers, as well as anyone who can appreciate nature or history.