Dexfield Park: “Special Program,” 100 Years Ago

September 7, 1919 – A Special Program for Dexfield Park


The Great War was over. Although Dexter had lost four sons to that war, the surviving troops were home. Central Iowans were ready to be entertained.

Dexfield Park, between Dexter and Redfield, was easy to get to even from Des Moines. If you didn’t want to drive, railroads served both towns, and you could hitchhike to the park.

Admission was 9 cents plus a 1-cent war tax. Guess the Great War hadn’t been paid for yet.

The Dexter Museum has a display about old Dexfield Park.

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Dexfield Park 1918
Dexfield Park display at the Dexter Museum on Marshall Street, Dexter, Iowa.

The park closed during the Great Depression, but people still used the camping area. Among them were the Barrow Gang, AKA Bonnie and Clyde. They were attempting to recover from a shootout in Missouri, where Clyde’s brother, Buck, had sustained a severe head wound. There was a shootout with a posse in July 1933. Bonnie, Clyde, and their driver got away, but Buck and wife Blanche were arrested. Buck died a few days later at a hospital in Perry, Iowa.

Markers along Dexfield Road with history of Dexfield Park and the 1933 shootout with Bonnie and Clyde. The red lamppost is an original from the park.



    • Dexter used to have a keen rivalry with Earham, even having football games against each other EVERY Thanksgiving day. My folks both were Dexterites. Imagine how they felt, decades later during school reorganization, when their daughters were bused to Earlham to high school!

    • I had NOT planned to run this one through my blog, but I do Dexter Museum “ads” on Thursdays and realized that this one should probably have a wider audience. Copied the URL and posted on Facebook pages: Dallas County History, and also Forgotten Iowa. Fun getting feedback.

  1. As soon as I saw the title, I thought I remembered the park as the scene of the Barrow Gang incident! I’m curious about the 1-cent war tax. Do you know if it was federal, state, or local?

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