WINTERSET, Iowa -- Arson last destroyed the Cedar Bridge in 2002.
The cost to rebuild it in 2003 as a replication of the original from the late 1800s was nearly $600,000. That included shipping timbers from Washington State. The cost this time around is unknown at this point, although it may be less expensive because the county already has the working set of drawings. Convincing folks in Madison County that the price is worth it is an easy sell.
You don't have to tell folks in Winterset how valuable the bridges of Madison County are, not only to locals but to people all over the world.
"It's an important part of history and I think people in this area and other places, people come to see this all the time, even from China, Europe," said Janet Hopp of Earlham. "They're beautiful. If you haven't seen them, go see one at least."
"Everybody likes to come here and look at them and you know just browse and just love the countrysides," said Neena Honnold, a lifelong Madison County resident. "They're just amazing to have around," she said.
People who do business in Madison County say the bridges are money makers.
"I'm a sales rep. I sell to two of the businesses down here and I don't think people understand the magnitude of what it brings to the community, the tourism. I bet probably half these stores wouldn't be here if it wasn't for the tourism," said Darcy Rice of Des Moines.
That's why folks in Madison County say the cost of rebuilding Cedar Bridge, which stands out as unique among the rest, is worth every penny.
"It's close enough to town, but far enough out and in this lovely park that it's a popular rental place for weddings and for parties, so we see a lot of that. It's also one of the bridges that's on the scenic byways that we just were listed on. We really can't do without it," said Brenda Hollingsworth of the Madison County Historic Preservation Commission.
The specialty labor and parts involved in rebuilding the bridge won't be cheap, but whatever the final dollar amount ends up being, folks in Madison County say it'll be worth it.
"It's more than a bridge to us. It's not just a physical structure. We have bridge building in our hearts and in our DNA and when we are problem solving in our community, it's what we bring to the table, so it's sort of a metaphor for life for us to have it," said Hollingsworth. "It's not too much money."
Or, as Janet Hopp put it, "It's a lot of money, but some things maybe don't have a price."
For more information, go to the Rebuild Cedar Bridge Facebook page.