Northwest Louisiana’s Boom or Bust Byway
Scenic splendor, outdoor recreation, historical attractions and specially designed group experiences await travelers
Running through four Northwest Louisiana parishes, the Boom or Bust Byway follows Route 2 and is defined by the Louisiana/Texas border and Highway 3049 on the west and Lake Claiborne on the east. Although much of Louisiana is known for a rich heritage comprising multiple ethnicities, the parishes of Caddo, Bossier, Webster and Claiborne have a slightly different story to tell.
Along the 136-mile scenic route, group travelers will witness prosperity to poverty and a return to
prosperity by Northwest Louisiana’s resilient people. The drive is filled with spectacular scenery highlighted by colorful wildflowers. With towering pines as a backdrop, sunflowers and other blooming plants create a sense of relaxation. In appreciationfor the beauty the sunflower brings to the area, the good folks of Gilliam hold an annual Sunflower Trail and Festival in mid-June.
The bayous and country churches also contribute to the byway’s beauty, but there’s another side to this boom or bust story. There had been oil busts as far back as the 1980s, but those that occurred in 2015 and 2016 greatly impacted Louisiana along with five other states. A reminder of that bust is the oil field equipment graveyards that dot the byway.
The good news is prosperity is returning with oil and natural gas production booming. The forestry and agricultural industries are also prospering after surviving hard times from overharvesting forests to floods and drought impacting crops.
Although the scenic drive alone is worth venturing to this corner of Louisiana, there are plenty of reasons to stop and discover its unique treasures. Here are just a few attractions along the way:
The impact of oil on the region is interpreted at the Louisiana State Oil & Gas Museum in Oil City. Focusing on the early history of the oil industry, the museum tells the story through photographs, films and life-size dioramas. Across the street is a collection of machinery, rigs and equipment.
In Vivian the Vivian Railroad Station Museum depicts the area’s history and culture. Built in 1921 by the Kansas Southern Railway, the station is on the National Register of Historic Places. Railroad lore is shared through both rotating and permanent exhibits.
Plain Dealing may have the most interesting town name of any in the region, but it’s the downtown experience that draws visitors. The original storefronts on its main street (Palmetto Street) still house
businesses, and there are several lovely churches and 1800s homes downtown. The mural on the building next to the drugstore tells the story of transportation’s importance to the area.
In Benton, Heritage Village provides a glimpse at how people lived at the turn of the 20th century. The 1845 Hughes Home, 1884 Heath Log Cabin and 1900s One-Room School relocated from Rocky Mount are each worth a stop.
Shreveport and Bossier City are no strangers to the “bust” that flooding can bring to a community. Possibly, it was the area’s gamble that crops would survive or oil and gas would return that brought a half-dozen casinos to Shreveport and Bossier City. It’s the hardy attitude of the community that always brings “boom” back.
Besides the casinos’ gaming floors and entertainment stages, many individual businesses are contributing to the boom. Along with the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau, those businesses are offering specially designed group experiences. Here are just a few to tempt you:
- The Great Create takes place at Agora Borealis. Amidst the 150 artists’ creations that are on display, groups get to show off their creative talents. Prior to the activity a local artist shares a little about his or her work and passion.
- How can you say no to The Perfect Pair – Wine and Chocolate Tasting? The Chocolate Crocodile, a locally owned shop at the Louisiana Boardwalk Outlets, provides the chocolates. A wine expert fills you in with fun facts and how to create excellent pairings. Jimmy’s Seafood & Steak at Margaritaville Resort and Casino is your host.
- Black contributions have been important to the area’s history and culture. To learn more, there’s no better group experience than The Art and Soul of Shreveport. Journey to the Southern University
Museum of Art to hear the stories, sights and sounds of black life in Shreveport.
- Whether you begin or end with Louisiana Archaeological Treasures, it should be part of your byway experience. It’s at the Louisiana State Exhibit Museum, where you’ll dig into the area’s history and discover hidden gems from the past.
For more on group experiences and itineraries in the Shreveport-Bossier City area, visit shreveport-bossier.org. To learn more about the Boom or Bust Byway, go to boomorbustbyway.com.