A Road Trip through Bonnie and Clyde's Missouri
A&E' Networks' "Bonnie & Clyde" two-part mini-series aired last week, with the finale drawing 7.4 million viewers according to the Los Angeles Times. Staring Emile Hisch and Holliday Grainger (pictured above at the premier party in New York), it was "the third most-watched basic cable miniseries since AMC's 'Broken Trail' in 2006."
Although the real-life Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were natives of Texas and died in Louisiana, two pivotal scenarios in their life of crime took place in Missouri.
The "Bonnie & Clyde" mini-series played fast and loose with the facts about the famous photos of the couple. Those pictures were on undeveloped rolls of film found after the April 13, 1933 shoot-out in Joplin, Missouri. The building at 34th and Oak Ridge Drive, site of the shoot-out, still stands and is a private residence.
The famous photos were first published by the Joplin Globe, not the Forth Worth Herald as the mini-series suggests. Until that time, investigators were not even sure what the couple looked like, so this raid was the beginning of the end for them. An extensive Bonnie and Clyde exhibit at the Joplin Museum Complex includes several items left behind because of the quick getaway, including jewelry probably worn by Parker.
Kansas City International Airport
Just east of exit 13 of I-29, which leads to the Kansas City (Missouri) International Airport, is where one of the most pivotal events in the Bonnie and Clyde saga occurred. This spot is where 13 Missouri law enforcement officers surrounded Red Crown Tourist Cabins in a shoot-out that left Clyde Barrow's older brother and Barrow gang member Buck Barrow fatally wounded and Clyde's wife Blanche with shards of glass in her left eye. The scene in the min-iseries is quite accurate in its recreation of the motor court. The historical marker is located on KCI property at Cookingham Drive and Highway D.
Missouri Highway Patrol Museum, Jefferson City
In the shoot-out at the Red Crown Cabins, Bonnie and Clyde left behind six Browning automatic rifles and 47 Colt .45 automatic pistols. One of those Brownings and stolen Missouri license plates used by Bonnie and Clyde are a part of the display at the Missouri Highway Patrol Museum that includes a shoot-out with the gang in Joplin.
Union Station, Kansas City, Missouri
A scene in part one of the Bonnie & Clyde mini-series shows news footage of Pretty Boy Floyd and the Union Station Massacre of June 17, 1933 where four law enforcement officers died. The bullet holes are still visible today at the Kansas City train station. Tours are offered by costumed interpreters.
The Federal Reserve Money Museum, Kansas City
Tommy guns, otherwise known as Thomas submachine guns, were the weapon of choice among crime fighters and criminals during Bonnie and Clyde's era. Historians call it the public enemies-era, and several exhibits at the Money Museum explain how police tracked criminals like Bonnie and Clyde. Tommy guns from that era are included in museum exhibits, which also display enough money to bring Bonnie and Clyde and their counterparts back from the dead.
Missouri State Penitentiary, Jefferson City
After her capture near Dexter, Iowa, Blanche Barrow was extradited to Missouri, where she was tried at the Platte County Courthouse in Platte City. She later served five years and six months of a 10-year sentence at the state penitentiary in Jefferson City. The historic penitentiary, which dates to the 1830s, was also home to Pretty Boy Floyd and is open for tours March through November. An adjacent museum includes photos of Blanche Barrow as a prisoner.