Bienville Parish is located in the northwest portion of Louisiana and, according to the 2000 census, has a population of 15,752. It consists of 822 total square miles, of which, 811 are land and 11 square miles are water. The highest point in Louisiana is Driskill Mountain at 535 feet and is located south of Arcadia on private property but can be accessed by a walking trail. It is named for James Christopher Driskill, a 19th century landowner. A visitors’ log book is kept for those who venture to the hilltop and would like to add their name to the registry.
Major highways include Interstate 20, U.S. Highways 80 and 371 as well as Louisiana Highways 4 and 9. Communities in Bienville Parish consist of these towns and villages:
Each of these municipalities has its own mayor.
The parish seat is now Arcadia which replaced the town of Sparta in 1890 after the railroads were constructed. Sparta was not easily accessible for merchants hauling their goods because it was distant from water sources such as Lake Bistineau and the Ouachita River. Loggy Bayou also flows through a portion of Bienville Parish on its way from Lake Bistineau to the Red River.
The Bienville Parish School Board has 8 schools including Arcadia (grades 6-12); Bienville (Pre-K-3 through 12th); Castor (K-12th); Crawford Elementary (grades 1-5); Gibsland-Coleman School Complex (grades K-12th); Ringgold Elementary; Ringgold High School and Saline (grades Pre-K-4 through 12th). School Board members include the following districts:
The parish also has a library with 4 branches in Arcadia, Castor, Ringgold and Saline.
A hunting and fishing paradise, Bienville Parish offers a wide variety of ponds, lakes, and wooded areas that are prime for weekend getaways. Kepler Creek Lake offers fishing and boating opportunities, and features the "Blue Hole", a scenic fishing spot. The Mill Creek Reservoir offers fishing and outdoor recreation, as does Saline Lake, Ringgold's southwestern swatch of Lake Bistineau State and Fish Reserve.
Situated on the western shore of Lake Bistineau, this park offers a satisfying blend of beautiful vistas and outstanding recreational facilities. Memorable for its upland mixed hardwood forest, its open waters, and its enchanting stands of cypress and tupelo trees, the park offers two boat launches, hiking trails, playgrounds, two swimming pools, a lakefront beach, a baseball field, camping, cabins, lodges, and excellent fishing!
Many visitors to Bienville Parish are interested in facts surrounding the Sailes Community which hosts a stone marker at the scene of the demise of the notorious outlaws Bonnie and Clyde. Area museums in Gibsland and Arcadia provide facts and memorabilia about the notorious 1930's outlaws. Located in the historical district in Arcadia are antique stores, which have revitalized the downtown area. Visitors to the downtown area would also be interested in original WPA murals painted on the walls of the U. S. Post Office located on Railroad Avenue.
The Authentic Bonnie and Clyde Museum is located in downtown Gibsland. It was opened in 1996. You may purchase t-shirts and other souvenirs and read about the history of Gibsland and Bonnie and Clyde. This museum sits on the site of Ma Canfield's Café in Gibsland, where Bonnie and Clyde grabbed sandwiches to go before they were shot dead minutes later, on May 23, 1934. The manager is "Boots" Hinton, son Ted Hinton, who participated in the ambush -- which is called "the capture" in Gibsland. Featured exhibits are one of Clyde's shotguns, swatches of his death pants, and a replica cemetery with Bonnie and Clyde replica tombstones. The ambush site is marked with a plaque, eight miles south of town on Hwy 154.
Bonnie & Clyde Trade Days is open 365 days a year as an RV park. Hundreds of RV spaces with water and 30-amp electrical hookups are available. Approximately 32 spaces with water, 30-amp electrical, and sewerage hookups are available. Full hookups with 50-amp electrical service are also available. A washateria, heated and air-conditioned bathhouse, and dump stations are all located on the grounds. Rated annually by Woodalls and Trailer Life, you will find our listings in both directories. Pets are welcome but should be kept on a leash and under the control of the owner when outside of the RV.
The largest outdoor flea market in Louisiana features antiques, collectibles, plants, pets, jewelry, tools, and much more. A tempting array of regional food specialties and its beautiful pastoral setting attracts vendors and shoppers from a four state radius and beyond. Always held on the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday before the third Monday of every month, the market draws thousands of shoppers and averages well over 200 vendors selling everything from pets to plants to antiques to crafts. Free shopper shuttles run from the parking area to the trade grounds and courtesy rest areas are located throughout the grounds for shoppers' convenience. Numerous concessions serving a delicious assortment of food specialties are available, including Pointe Barrow Cafe overlooking beautiful Bonnie's Bay. RV parking is available for both shoppers and vendors. There is no admission charge. Parking is just $3 per vehicle.
The Mt. Lebanon community has six homes on the National Registrar of Historic Places as well as the historic Mount Lebanon Baptist Church. Visitors to the community should begin their visit with a stop at the Stage Coach Trail Museum, located at the crossroads of LA 154 and 517. The museum is open from 2:00pm to 5:00pm Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and by appointment. It is run by volunteers from the Mt. Lebanon Historical Society. For information, or to confirm the hours, call (318) 843-6255 (318) 843-6844 .
Information taken from the Bienville Parish Chamber of Commerce Web site.