Stories of Madison County

Madison County has many stories to tell that are the stuff of legends. The abundance of natural beauty in Madison County is the background against which these stories unfold, stories of people of unique character who made their mark on American life and our cultural landscape. Stories of a place that must be experienced first-hand.

From its heartland beauty to its storied history, Madison County is an American legend, a place with the soul of this country—honest, authentic, with warmth, history and depth of character.

Please visit for a list of attractions, maps, and other information about our beautiful county.

Visit & Explore

As American as apple pie, Madison County was the birthplace of the Delicious apple and an American icon, legendary actor John Wayne.

The county was organized in 1846, and is named after James Madison, the fourth President of the United States. Its picturesque terrain features an abundance of rivers and creeks, and great expanses of fertile farmland.

Originally boasting 19 covered bridges, six of the Covered Bridges of Madison County remain today – with five of the six bridges being listed on the National Register of Historic Places. But there’s so much more to Madison County – come visit The Birthplace of John Wayne, Madison County Courthouse, Monumental Park, North River Stone Schoolhouse, Winterset Art Center, Bevinton-Kaser House and Historical Complex, and Clark Tower.

Midwest quilters call Madison County their Mecca as it’s home to two of the world’s best known quilters, Marianne Fons and Liz Porter, whose company, Fons & Porter Love of Quilting, is based in Winterset. There’s a second quilt store, an old-fashioned Ben Franklin, just down the block.

With annual events like the Annual Lions Show, Bike Ride Around Madison County, National Skillet Throw, Truro Town & Country Days, Freedom Fest, Madison County Fair, Old Settlers Celebration, Summerfest, Apple Days Festival, Covered Bridge Festival, Festival of Lights and the City Park Light Display, there’s always something fun, interesting and unique to see and do in Madison County.

In addition to these great annual events, there are awe inspiring places to explore like the Winterset City Park where you can find your way through an English Hedge Maze or take a pleasant walk across the Stone Foot Bridge; drive or hike up to Clark Tower for a breathtaking view of the Middle River valley; take a beautiful drive in Pammel State Park and through the Harmon Tunnel, the only highway tunnel in Iowa; hike the Backbone and Lodge Trails; drive across the Middle River Ford or stop and take time to fish.