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Winterset, Iowa: John Wayne's Hometown Has an Entire Museum Dedicated to The Duke

Associated Press/ Wikipedia/ Guimir

In the summer of 1849, a small town in Iowa was initially going to be named "Summerset" due to the time of year it was constructed. But after an unseasonably cold winter struck, the name "Winterset" officially stuck. The charming town less than an hour outside of Des Moines has served as a film location over the years for movies like Cold Turkey (1971), The Bridges of Madison County (1995) and The Crazies (2010). But it is best known for being the birthplace of the iconic Hollywood actor John Wayne

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The town has fully embraced its famous former resident and is now the only place in the United States that has an entire museum dedicated completely to the Duke. The John Wayne Birthplace & Museum is located at 205 S. John Wayne Dr (yep he has his own street) with the largest collection of Wayne memorabilia in the world. Visitors get to see the actual house that was the birthplace of John Wayne himself as well as a full museum full of information about Wayne, his parents Clyde and Mary Brown Morrison, and more. It's really any John Wayne fan's dream because it's full of everything you'd ever want to see; scripts, costumes, set pieces, posters and more from his incredible career. There's also a massive bronze statue of Wayne out front that you'll definitely want to get a photo with. 

Winterset City Park, town square, Madison County Courthouse, Clark Tower, and the cozy Northside Café all contribute to making Winterset look like the quintessential midwest small town of your dreams. There are even multiple places and their historic district that are included on the National Register of Historic Places so it's a great little spot to add to your travel bucket list. 

With COVID-19 prohibiting traveling lately, you can still tune into the John Wayne museum's website to see a few virtual behind the scenes glimpses at all of the fun exhibits it has to offer. If you eventually want to make a whole trip out to Winterset, make sure to also visit The Iowa Quilt museum to take a class on quilting and the Covered Bridge Festival (which was postponed until 2021). The Madison County Chamber of Commerce Welcome Center also has information on all of the historic covered bridges that you can visit in town. (All are honored during the annual festival.) There are six bridges, including the Roseman Bridge, throughout the city of Winterset. All add to the picturesque small-town charm Winterset has to offer.

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Winterset, Iowa: John Wayne's Hometown Has an Entire Museum Dedicated to The Duke