Iowa has been home to several famous actors and actresses, including John Wayne, Ashton Kutcher, and Donna Reed. John Wayne was born in Winterset, Iowa, and Ashton Kutcher grew up in Cedar Rapids. Donna Reed, who won an Academy Award for her role in the movie "From Here to Eternity," was born in Denison, Iowa.
Madison County, Iowa, has a rich history rooted in early settlement and development. The area was originally inhabited by Native American groups such as the Ioway, Sauk, and Meskwaki tribes. The first European settlers arrived in the early 1840s, drawn to the fertile land and potential for farming. The county was officially established on January 13, 1846, and named after James Madison, the fourth president of the United States.

During the mid-1800s, Madison County experienced rapid growth and development. The construction of the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad in the 1850s further stimulated economic growth, connecting the county to larger markets and facilitating trade and transportation. Agriculture played a crucial role in the county's economy, with corn and livestock farming becoming dominant industries.

In the late 1800s, Madison County became known for its iconic covered bridges. Construction of these picturesque bridges began in the 1860s and continued until the early 1900s, with a peak of 19 bridges in the county. These covered bridges served as important transportation links, allowing farmers to cross rivers and streams even in inclement weather. Today, Madison County is famous for its covered bridges, and visitors from around the world come to appreciate their beauty and historical significance.

Throughout the 20th century, Madison County continued to evolve and adapt to changing times. Modernization and technological advancements decreased the agricultural workforce, leading to a shift towards more diverse industries and a growing emphasis on tourism. Today, Madison County is a popular tourist destination, attracting visitors with its charming covered bridges, picturesque landscapes, and rich history, while also serving as a vibrant community for residents.

This timeline provides a concise overview of the key events in the history of Madison County, Iowa.

  • 1846 - Madison County is established and named after President James Madison.
  • 1851 - The first settlers arrive in the area, primarily from Kentucky and Indiana.
  • 1854 - The county seat is established in Winterset.
  • 1862 - The Winterset Public Library, the first library in town, is established.
  • 1876 - The Winterset National Bank, the first bank in town, is established.
  • 1879 - The construction of the Madison County Courthouse is completed.
  • 1883 - The Winterset Independent School District is established.
  • 1888 - The Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad reaches Winterset, boosting economic growth.
  • 1913 - The Iowa State Park Commission acquires land for what will become Pammel State Park.
  • 1937 - Covered Bridges of Madison County are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
  • 1969 - The Bridges of Madison County novel by Robert James Waller is published, popularizing the area.
  • 1995 - The Bridges of Madison County film adaptation starring Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep is released.
  • 2020 - Madison County celebrates its 175th anniversary.