The first bridge spanning the Middle River near the Holliwell farm was built in the winter of 1854 to 1855. That bridge was a timber bridge supported by piles driven into the riverbed. It featured a 40 foot long main span. It washed out in the flood of 1876. Three years later, the Madison County Board of Supervisors approved a new bridge. It was completed in June, 1880. This replacement bridge carried traffic until it was bypassed in 1986. It was extensively renovated in 1995.
The new bridge was a wooden covered bridge featuring the Town Truss design. The lower bridge beam was 122 feet long, with the main span being 110 feet. That suggests that the piers were located about 6 feet from each end of the bridge. The northwest end of the bridge has a 49 foot long approach span, while the approach span on the southeast end is only 14 feet long. A unique feature of the Holliwell Bridge is an arch built into the structure. The other larger covered bridges remaining in Madison County have a ‘queenpost’ truss that has a horizontal beam at the top of the truss, with two supports running at an angle from the piers holding up this horizontal beam. On the Holliwell Bridge, this queenpost truss is a series of 14 inch wide planks joined end to end to form a long sweeping arch.
The Cedar Bridge played a central role in the novel ‘The Bridges Of Madison County.’ However, in the film, it was the Holliwell Bridge that played this key role when the book was adapted for the big screen.
The photo above is looking west into the afternoon sun towards the northeast face of the Holliwell Bridge. The vantage point is the newer concrete bridge on Holliwell Bridge Road that bypassed this covered bridge. The photo below is looking south towards the northwest bridge portal from the edge of Holliwell Bridge Road.