Winterset, Iowa

For the play by Maxwell Anderson, see Winterset

Winterset is a city in Madison County, Iowa, United States. The population was 4,768 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Madison County.

Winterset is part of the Des MoinesWest Des Moines Metropolitan Statistical Area.


Winterset is located at (41.335901, -94.013981).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 3.5 square miles (9.1 km²), all of it land.

Winterset is located about 45 minutes southwest of the state capital of Des Moines.


The City of Winterset was first plotted in 1849. This year is considered by the Madison County Historical Society and city government to be the year of Winterset's founding. Winterset's sesquicentennial (150 years) was celebrated in the summer of 1999. Among the original family names thought to be living in Winterset around the time of its founding were: Bilderback, Clark, Danforth, Guiberson, Gentry, Berthold, Tidrick, Pitzer, Gaff, Berger,Simpson, Ruby, Hornback, Dougherty, Wilhoit, Walkup, McPherson, Wilkinson, Gaskill, Houk, and Hutchings.


Winterset is widely known for its covered bridges. A total of six covered bridges are located in Madison County, including one in Winterset City Park. The annual Covered Bridge Festival celebrates the bridges and local heritage every second full weekend in October. In 2006, the festival was held October 14 and 15.

Another notable landmark is Clark Tower, located in Winterset City Park, which offers breathtaking views of the surrounding Middle River Valley area.

The Madison County Courthouse, in the middle of the town square, was built in 1868, and rebuilt in 1876 after being partially destroyed by fire.

Perhaps the most famous landmark is the John Wayne Birthplace Museum not too far from the downtown area.


As of the census of 2000, there were 4,768 people, 1,884 households, and 1,230 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,357.9 people per square mile (524.5/km²). There were 1,998 housing units at an average density of 569.0/sq mi (219.8/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 98.87% White, 0.06% African American, 0.15% Native American, 0.27% Asian, 0.13% from other races, and 0.52% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.59% of the population.

There were 1,884 households out of which 32.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.1% were married couples living together, 9.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.7% were non-families. 31.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 18.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.39 and the average family size was 3.01.

In the city the population was spread out with 25.8% under the age of 18, 7.3% from 18 to 24, 25.5% from 25 to 44, 20.3% from 45 to 64, and 21.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 86.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 78.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $33,142, and the median income for a family was $42,951. Males had a median income of $31,536 versus $22,146 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,274. About 5.8% of families and 8.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 8.9% of those under age 18 and 14.6% of those age 65 or over.

Famous residents

  • The actor John Wayne was born in Winterset in 1907. His name at birth was Marion Robert Morrison. The Morrison family lived in the area until 1911. After 1911 the family moved to California because doctors felt that it would help the health of John's father.
  • George Washington Carver lived in Winterset in the mid-1880's, and worked there as head cook for a hotel downtown.
  • Fred Clarke, who was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1945, was born in Winterset on Oct 3, 1872.
  • Henry J. B. Cummings, a U.S. Representative from Iowa and editor and proprietor of the Winterset Madisonian.
  • Henry A. Wallace graduated from Winterset Senior High School


External links


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