In 2014 the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs announced 3 new Iowa Great Places designations, including Madison County!

Madison County’s vision captures what makes it truly unique – its history, beauty and culture – and attempts to tie together existing and new amenities surrounding the past, present and future of film. This vision capitalizes upon two of Madison County’s most significant features, the world-famous covered bridges and the birthplace of one of America’s most beloved movie icons, John Wayne.

Community leaders have worked hard to build a brand for Madison County as a cultural and tourism destination, and numerous new attractions over the past ten years have been a result of those efforts.


Madison County’s proposal included projects to improve quality of life and attract thousands to the county. The projects will be long-term assets that improve quality of life for existing residents and provide ongoing education, historic preservation, and entertainment value to central and south central Iowa. Specifically, the projects will enhance a strong base of cultural attractions that make Madison County a Great Place.

Iowa Great Places awarded $97,500 in 2014 for two projects in Madison County:

  • John Wayne Birthplace Museum Exhibits
  • John Wayne Birthplace Trail

“The Iowa Great Places designation is an exciting step in our community’s vision to establish Madison County as a destination. The Great Places funding for the John Wayne Birthplace Museum and John Wayne Birthplace Trail will help to realize a decades-long dream of many community leaders to construct a memorial and lasting tribute worthy of one of the world’s most famous actors whose roots began right here in Madison County. Funding for this project and designation as an Iowa Great Place will certainly help Madison County to promote our heritage and our cultural significance, while drawing additional visitors to Madison County to explore our roots and unique place in film history. Madison County is absolutely an Iowa great place, and the stamp of approval from the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs is icing on the cake.”Heather Riley, Madison County Chamber of Commerce, Executive Director, 515-462-1185

Read more about the Iowa Great Places program and see a full list of Iowa Great Places designees.