Just now getting around to posting this. If it's a dup mods please delete.
I grew up in Winterset Iowa on a horse farm. We had 16 head and a stud horse.
Madison County had 7 covered bridges all over a hundred years old. In 1983 a kid who had carved his and his girlfriends initials into one of the timbers in one of the bridges tried to burn them off after she broke up with him. The bridge burned to the ground.
The city engineer at that time ordered that all remaining bridges be surveyed and design plans were drawn up in the event this ever happened again.
Then Clint Eastwood came to town and made his movie "Bridges of Madison County"...
Years later in 2002 the Cedar Bridge was burned to the ground. The same bridge that was used in the movie. But because the plans had been drawn up the city raised the $500,000 dollars to have the Amish rebuild it.
Saturday morning Cedar burned again.
Little bastards.... They should be caned....
Pictures at the link.
A 17-year-old from West Des Moines was charged with first-degree arson in connection with a fire that destroyed one of Madison County’s iconic covered bridges.
Alexander Hoff was arrested Monday evening on the Class B felony, said Madison County Sheriff Jason Barnes. The West Des Moines Police Department held him and facilitated interviews until the sheriff’s office brought him to the county at about 10 p.m.
No bond has been set. Hoff is being held in the Madison County Jail.
The Madison County Sheriff's Office received a report of the fire at the Cedar Bridge at about 6 a.m. Saturday. The bridge was fully engulfed by the time fire crews and law enforcement got to the scene about 20 minutes later, according to the sheriff’s office.
The sheriff’s office received a tip and “things started falling into place real quick,” Barnes said, during a news conference.
Video evidence also assisted in the arrest, though it was not from the surveillance cameras near the bridge, Barnes said.
WHO-TV posted a video of an interview with Hoff on their Facebook page at the scene of the arson.
The sheriff's office confirmed the video is the same Hoff who was arrested.
An Instagram account by Hoff also includes two pictures of bridges in Madison County. The caption for one picture of a covered bridge posted five weeks ago reads, "The hardest part of life is knowing which bridges to burn, and which to cross."
Hoff is charged with first-degree arson in connection with a fire that destroyed the Cedar Bridge.
The other picture, uploaded three weeks ago, features the Cedar Bridge with the caption, "like every old country song."
More:'I’m angry inside,' Winterset mayor says of covered bridge fire
There’s a possibility more people could be arrested, depending on evidence from an ongoing investigation, Barnes said.
He said there was a reason the bridge was set on fire, but would not go into detail.
"It was a target," Barnes said. "That's all I'm going to say."
The sheriff’s office declined to share the details, citing the ongoing investigation.
The original Cedar Bridge was built in 1883 before it burned in 2002. Investigators quickly determined that fire to be arson, but no arrests were ever made. About a year later, another Madison County bridge was the target of arsonists; the Hogback Bridge sustained minimal damage when it was set on fire in September 2003.
The Cedar Bridge was rebuilt and reopened in 2004. Barnes said he believes the reconstruction cost about $1 million.
Before the Cedar Bridge fire in 2002, the last time Madison County had lost a bridge to arson — the McBride Bridge — was in 1983. Authorities arrested a local man.
It was the Cedar Bridge that graced the cover of Robert Waller's best-selling book "The Bridges of Madison County."
Because the bridge wasn’t a total loss on Saturday like the 2002 arson, it provided beneficial evidence for investigators.
“At first it might not look like you have anything, but once the dust settles and the smoke clears, you’ll be amazed by what you can determine from that structure still standing," Barnes said.
As for the future of the bridge and the security of it, Barnes said it will be up to the community to decide.
He said people could decide to turn the bridge into “Fort Knox,” or they could treat is as a park.
“You have to find that happy medium,” Barnes said.
Outside the Madison County Sheriff's Office in Winterset, more than a dozen local residents gathered for the news conference, anticipating the news Barnes was going to share about the arson.
“I’m just glad they found who did it," said Mary Lou Parker, 73, of Truro. "I’m sorry it’s a 17-year-old. That’s not the way to start your life."
She said she's visited the bridge before, but she's unsure it's worth the money to rebuild it again. She said there are other bridges in Madison County that are used more often that need repair.
"We built it once," Parker said. "Right now, I’m not sure I would build it again. It takes a lot of money."
Brenda Hollingsworth, program director for the Madison County Historic Preservation Commission, said she was relieved when she learned an arrest was made.
"I was just devastated," Hollingsworth said. "I saw the pictures and thought, 'How could it happen again?'"
She said it cost $576,000 to rebuild the bridge in 2003. The commission worked to get grant money to place surveillance cameras around it, but she said they got lax because so much time had passed since the arson.
Hollingsworth said she recently went out to the bridge with friends and stood there, crying. But she said the community will have closure now because of the arrest, and county stakeholders want to rebuild the bridge.
However, she said she's saddened to learn the suspect is a teenager.
"That just breaks my heart. I am so sad about that," Hollingsworth said. "I know we want justice done as a community, but I think justice can be tempered with grace."
The Madison County Attorney will determine whether Hoff should be tried as an adult, Barnes said.