Winterset, IA

Some people call this area “fly over country,” so why did we come here to Winterset, you ask? Well, it’s the home of Marion Robert Morrison of course. What? You’ve never heard of Marion? Maybe his stage name will ring a bell: John Wayne, AKA The Duke. I don’t think that I have an absolute favorite movie with John Wayne (ok, all of them), but “The Quiet Man” and “True Grit” I remember as very enjoyable. And “Flying Leathernecks” of course. And “In Harm’s Way.” I was slogging my way through Parris Island when The Duke passed away in 1979, and there was a Memorial Service for him on base which gave us downtrodden Privates the rare opportunity to sit quietly for an hour without any harassment by Drill Instructors. It was a glorious rest period, though I did not appreciate John Wayne’s contributions at the time.

The Duke

Winterset is also the home of Madison County, which is the covered bridge capital of Iowa. It is also the setting for the book “The Bridges of Madison County,” which some people seem to have enjoyed (or not). I have not read it myself, since there are no spaceships involved🚀.

Our campground during our four-night stay here is a City Park. A little bit small, but well-kept and within walking distance to the small downtown area where the John Wayne Museum is, as well as the Iowa Quilt Museum and numerous small shops around the central square.

Walking through the adjoining park was enjoyable, and we found what looked like a a medieval tower (in honor to an early Iowan pioneer family), a maze of hedges, and some new stump carvings. Tornados ripped through town in early March, so there are many tree stumps to be carved. From the top of the tower we could see the tornado’s path by the line of downed trees. Several people died in Winterset during the storm.

The Chamber of Commerce hosted a Wine Walk on Saturday (perfect timing), so we tried out some of the Iowa wines (18 of them actually!) and returned to the trailer with several bottles under our arms, one of them very much like a Port.

Clark Tower, Pioneer Family Memorial
Apple Memorial
Completed Stump Carving in the Park
Amazing Work via Chainsaw
Roosting Owls
1870 Covered Bridge, Relocated to the Park
John Wayne’s Birth House
John Wayne Museum
My Angel

This was my first time visiting Iowa (at least on ground-level) and it was very enjoyable. Nice rural area, small town atmosphere, and great people. Yes, I could live here.

Our next stop is back to the Mississippi River (again), but this time it will be on the shores of Wisconsin, a bit further north than our last stop on the river. We have passed the half-way mark for the journey to the Canadian border; how time flies!

6 thoughts on “Winterset, IA

  1. Ooo, to those stump carvings! Great way to deal with the after-effects of rotten tornadoes. Been to I-o-way many times for geode hunting…classic Midwestern state with probably the least heavy ‘accent’, and sidewalks that roll up after 8pm…eat early or miss out.

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  2. After reading your comment on the memorial service to John Wayne during boot camp, I decided to look up Wayne’s contributions to the Corps. As you probably already know, I was surprised to learn many people thought he personally saved it from being merged with the Army. The article I read even mentioned that he turned down a role in “The Sands of Iwo Jima,” but soon accepted the role after the Commandant personally flew to California to convince him to take the role. Apparently all a big effort to build good PR during the Doolittle purges.

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  3. Theres several nice parks to visit in the area and of course the bridges and locations where they filmed the movie Bridges of Madison County, although I was not a fan of the movie. But its a nice area. Should come back in the fall for a visit and festival.

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  4. I think the joy of visiting America will stay with you for years to come. What a fantastic experience you are having.

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