Sunday, March 15, 2015

Dexfield Park, Iowa-- More Than Just The Location of a Bonnie & Clyde Shootout

Although not readily available, if you look hard enough-- info on the old Dexfield Amusement Park can be found.  Of course all these decades later-- the location of the abandoned center for family fun in Dallas County, Iowa, is perhaps best know as "ground zero" for the famous Dexter Bonnie & Clyde shootout. 

However in it's heyday-- Dexfield Park was much more than the location of an iconic gun battle.  Dexfield Park opened in 1915, located between Dexter and Redfield on the south side of the Raccoon River.  The Park was open on Sundays, with pool open during the week-- and thus people came from near & far, including from Iowa's capital Des Moines. It's been noted that often-- there would be thousands of people in attendance there.

The park featured a quite large cement swimming pool fed by the nearby “Marshall Springs”. Also present, were a bevy of drinking fountains offering the local spring water-- said to possess healing qualities.  There was a bath house that rented out swimming suits and towels. Also present, was a large open-air dance hall where dances with bands were held.  The Park which provided entry from the west-- had a box office where $2.00 would be paid for admission (using 1920 as a guideline-- about $25 in today's dollars).  On the south side of the pool there was a pavilion with restaurant-- with sandwiches, soft drinks, and ice cream served.  A diving tower was also in place (visible in the photo above)-- which apparently provided excitement for some, and legitimate danger for others.  

There were rides, a Merry-Go-Round, Ferris Wheel, a shooting gallery and various Fair stands, where games of chance were held.  Also a large movie screen provided a venue for free movies, which were shown Sunday evenings. For campers-- a free camp ground was available as well, for those with tents or who chose to vacation there.  There was a Zoo nearby, with animals to fascinate young and old alike.  Also a skating rink and area where canoes could be rented, for excursions along the Raccoon River. 

After enjoying a long run in the Sun as a spot for family fun, relaxation and entertainment-- Dexfield Park closed, with apparent hopes of reopening, ironically around the time of Bonnie & Clyde.  But alas-- that was not to be.   

Dexfield Park location as it exists today.  The identity of the lady head-high in the Iowa corn, is unknown.

So when Dexter, Iowa is mentioned today-- it seems besides it's fine people and country landscape, for many 2 things come to mind-- President Harry Truman's Farm speech in September of '48.. and of course the hastily orchestrated "near end" for The Barrow Gang. For it was there, that Bonnie & Clyde's suicide pact came within an instant of fruition, Blanche was captured, W. D. Jones demonstrated remarkable strength, loyalty and bravery-- and Buck Barrow finally fell, in the Summer of '33.

For those who visit this historic site-- a marker's now in place overlooking where Dexfield Park once stood.  I suppose another example to prove, that sometimes truth is in the eye of the marker maker.  "Barrow Gang Captured at Dexfield Park"??  Well, that's partially true-- but in reality, a much more powerful Barrow Gang would rise again-- only to be destroyed from within by dissension and betrayal-- and finally silenced near Sailes, Louisiana nearly a year later. 

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