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Cutler-Donahoe Bridge

“One of the first covered bridges Eli Cox built was the Donahue bridge over North River near the eastern line of the county. The cover protects the timbers and prevented rain from getting into the joints and around nails and bolts. There are still a number of these bridges in the county and people drive from afar to see them.” The Winterset Madisonian, July 13, 1949

The Cutler-Donahoe (sometimes spelled Donahue) Bridge is 82 feet long and was built by Eli Cox in 1871. It has a traditional pitched roof and a Town lattice truss.  It was built using wooden “tree nails” with iron bolts added later for stability. According to The Festival Flyer, dated October 9, 1971, the bridge was built of white pine, most likely shipped in from Oregon.

This bridge originally crossed the North River near Bevington, Iowa, where the bridge carried traffic for almost a century. The bridge got its name from two families who lived near the bridge in its original location - the Cutlers and the Donahoes.

According to the same The Festival Flyer, the Cutler-Donahoe Bridge was bypassed by an iron bridge in the late 1960s, and was steadily deteriorating when it was decided in 1970 that the bridge should be moved. Plans had already been made to start an annual Covered Bridge Festival, with the first one scheduled for October 10, 1970.  “Sterling silver and silver-nickel commemorative medallions were struck and sold, providing funds with which the Cutler bridge could be moved and renovated.”

A house-mover, Clair Rogers of Macksburg, used his 1934 truck to move the bridge, which was anchored on a sixteen-wheel house-moving rig. “It took a two-day journey, at speeds from one-half to 12 miles per hour, to bring the 80-foot-long, 40-ton structure to Winterset.” Parked temporarily at the Little League ballpark, the bridge was fitted with new beams and braces, the siding was repaired, the roof re-shingled, and the bridge was repainted. Just before the first Covered Bridge Festival, Rogers and his crew completed the bridge’s journey to the Winterset City Park, where it still stands today.

The total amount spent to move the bridge, including Rogers’ fee, was $2,696.94. The bridge was rehabilitated in 1997 at a cost of $35,538.


300 S. 9th St.
Winterset, IA 50273

Cutler-Donahoe Bridge photo