If you’re traveling along I-20 in Northern Louisiana between Shreveport and Monroe and in the mood for a bit of outlaw history and true crime nostalgia, hop off the interstate and onto the self-guided Bonnie and Clyde Trail in Bienville Parish, Louisiana.
A Brief History of Bonnie and Clyde
The infamous Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow are known for a string of robberies, murders, and kidnappings between 1932 and 1934, during the Great Depression.
The media glamorized their exploits, and the public was captivated by Bonnie and Clyde. The romantic notion of inseparable bandits on the run made them “public folk heroes” instead of “public enemies.”
After a nearly two-year chase by the police and Bureau of Investigations (now the FBI), the pair was ambushed and shot dead in a legendary capture-and-kill event in Louisiana.
Bonnie and Clyde Ambush Museum
2419 Main St. Gibsland, LA 71028
Make your first stop at the Bonnie and Clyde Ambush Museum in the small town of Gibsland, Louisiana. The museum is in the old Ma Canfield’s Cafe building, where Clyde stopped to order a fried bologna sandwich for himself and a BLT for Bonnie just 10 minutes before the ambush.
When you enter the museum, you can start checking out all the artifacts or take a seat and watch a looping video about the ambush—it’s well worth a viewing. Don’t miss it!
The bulk of the exhibit is in the next room, and the walls are plastered from top to bottom with memorabilia.
There’s a bit of a dusty flea market vibe to the museum, but it’s worth it if you’re willing to poke around a bit. The collection contains photographs, newspaper clippings, letters, and personal effects.
One of the more gruesome parts of the museum is the bullet-riddled and bloodstained replica of Bonnie and Clyde’s death car.
The bodies of Bonnie and Clyde lie slaughtered inside, covered in blood and broken glass. They’re dummies, of course, but the effect is chilling.
There’s also a “morgue” where the dead bodies lie, and their grisly death photos are on the wall above. It’s horrifying yet fascinating.
Less bloody but certainly macabre are the replica graves of Bonnie and Clyde.
It was their wish to be buried together, but in reality, Bonnie’s family refused to do so, and they were buried in separate cemeteries in Dallas.
If you look carefully, there are some fascinating finds like remnants of the actual death car and one of the shotguns found in the vehicle.
If you’re a Bonnie and Clyde fan, allow at least an hour to watch the video and explore the museum before heading to your next trail stop.
Historic Gas Station
S. First St., Gibsland, LA
At this abandoned gas station just around the corner from the Bonnie and Clyde Ambush Museum, a plaque indicates that this is where Ranger Frank Hamer called the FBI, announcing that Bonnie and Clyde were dead.
The sign shows where the phone was located, and the actual phone is now in the museum, so look for it when you visit!
Bonnie and Clyde Ambush Site
Highway 154, Gibsland, LA
Historic markers now rest where Bonnie and Clyde were ambushed and killed on May 23, 1934, outside Gibsland.
Officers were hiding in the brush, and when Bonnie and Clyde’s car appeared, the law enforcement officers opened fire with automatic rifles, shotguns, and pistols. Film footage taken immediately after the ambush showed about 112 bullet holes in the vehicle. Bonnie and Clyde didn’t have a chance.
Sadly, people have chipped away and shot at the Bonnie and Clyde marker in hopes of a souvenir, and it’s covered in graffiti, so it’s tough to read.
The plaque honoring the six officers who lost their lives during the ambush has also been defaced but not as severely.
Directions from Ambush Museum to Ambush Site: Head south 2.5 miles on Hwy 154. Watch the highway signs and turn right to stay on Hwy 154. (Straight is Hwy 517.) Follow Hwy 154 for 5-6 miles. Look for the pair of interpretive markers on the right side of the road. There’s space to pull over and park your car.
Bonnie and Clyde Embalming Site
Henderson Jordan Memorial Park
1876 North Railroad Avenue, Arcadia, LA
This park sits at the former location of Conger’s Furniture Store and Funeral Parlor where the death car with Bonnie and Clyde’s corpses inside was towed following the ambush. Bonnie and Clyde were autopsied and embalmed here as crowds of people arrived to see the bodies and tear apart the car for souvenirs.
A bronze plaque in the park commemorates the six ambush posse members.
More Bonnie and Clyde Trail Stops
- Ruston, LA – At the corner of West Georgia and North Trenton streets was once a boardinghouse from which Bonnie and Clyde stole a Ford V8. Its owner, H.D. Darby, a local mortician, and a female friend chased after them. The outlaws kidnapped them but ultimately released them. The irony is that H.D. Darby would one day be their undertaker.
- Shreveport, LA (422 Milan St.) – There was a diner called the Majestic Cafe where Bonnie and Clyde met with an accomplice, Henry Melvin. They left before him, and he tried to walk out without paying and was arrested. Under police questioning, he spilled the beans that Bonnie and Clyde’s hideout was at his family farm. That information ultimately led to the ambush.
I didn’t have time to visit all six of these stops (just the first three), and they were definitely worth the detour. I got the inspiration from reading about it on LouisianaTravel.com