Wabasha Street Caves - HauntedHouses.com
215 Wabasha Street-South
45 minute walking tour: Thursdays 5 pm * Saturdays 11 am * Sundays 11 am
Wabasha Street Caves are located just north of Cherokee Regional Park and residential housing, not far from the east bank of the Mississippi River, just south of Platt Boulevard W/Platt Boulevard E. Street on Wabasha Street. Wabasha Street runs across the Mississippi River all the way to HWY 35E & I 94, right through a main part of downtown St. Paul.
These sandstone caves are located underground, underneath a rather large plateau. Tom and I took the tour, which was a fascinating experience. While it was a warm, June day in Saint Paul, the caves were cool, requiring sweaters!
Throughout the 12,000 square feet of these caves, one sees " tastefully finished," old decor with newer additions, creating an enhancing atmosphere with a mysterious aura. One notices the nicely done brick walls, stucco ceilings, and ample, carpeted dining space. In the lounge area, there are beautiful tile floors. The original 1930s 60 foot bar is in grand shape, as is the 1,600 Sq ft., large hardwood dance floor, located in front of the performance stage.
As it was in its history, the Wabasha Caves are used and appreciated today by the people of St. Paul and surrounding suburbs.
Seems to be "the perfect, place for private dinner, play, dance, casino, murder mystery, or theme party. Group and private parties such as wedding receptions, class reunions, fund raisers, birthdays, anniversaries, and corporate parties have found The Wabasha Street Caves to be the perfect place for a unique and unforgettable party."
These sandstone Wabasha Caves have been useful, since 1840, in not only providing silica for the making of glass, in becoming a handy place for food storage, in aiding in the growing of delicious mushrooms, in becoming a place to put items washed up in floods, but also in providing an entertainment haven for not only the upper-class citizens of the Saint Paul area but also the members of the gangster class, made complete with the banned 1920-1930s liquid refreshment, alcohol.
Perfect for growing mushrooms - In the early 1900s, a family of French immigrants discovered that these 7 sandstone caves were perfect for growing mushrooms, located just across the river from downtown Saint Paul. These 7 caves were used by the family for various aspects of their mushroom business, which became hugely successful. Their business started by providing mushrooms for markets just in Saint Paul, but wound up shipping mushrooms all over the country
Speak-easy, high class nightclub - Sometime during the 1920s, St. Paul became a safe haven, sanctuary city for gangsters where they could go to rest from their life of crime and live without fear of arrest from local law enforcement. One of the hallways in the Wabasha Caves has framed pictures of some of these infamous gangsters, hanging along the wall.
So, it is no surprise that the prohibition against alcohol wasn't enforced with much effort. The first speak-easy which was set up in the main cave, was quietly known as the Wabasha Street Speakeasy, complete with its own whisky still. By the 1930s, local authorities totally looked the other way. It was felt that the days of Prohibition were numbered anyway, proving to be a colossal failure as an experiment, which was promoted by the nanny mentality of some lawmakers.
The daughter of the French mushroom farmers and her husband decided to establish a grander effort and opened a high end, romantic night club, calling it The Castle Royal, where people could come, and spend a $1.00 for dinner (cost of a week's groceries), enjoy and dance to the touring big bands and musical acts performing on the stage in the center room, or play cards in the adjoining room, complete with a fireplace.
The Castle Royal had all the bells and whistles associated with high class clubs, including a 1,600 sq foot dance floor. There was an elegant dining area near the dance floor and stage, a bar, a card playing area; located in the Fireside Room, a kitchen, a food and liquor storage area and the reception room.
The Castle Royal was a great success throughout the 1930s, but closed its doors when World War 2 started in 1941. The caves once again were used to grow mushrooms.
During the 1970s, a new dance club/bar opened, called The Castle Royal 2, becoming a venue for disco.
Sometime afterward, a huge flood wiped out the housing along the river, and two of the caves were taken by the city to push flood debris and peoples ruined belongings into, which are still there today.
HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS:
Many people found The Castle Royal to be a romantic place to take one's special love, or to have a great time of fun and relaxation.
The gangsters who mingled with the general public at either of these speakeasy's; Wabasha Street Speakeasy or The Castle Royal, were basically well-behaved. John Dillinger liked to dance with the girls, and acted like a perfect, charming gentleman. He went dancing here a few months before he was gunned down by F.B.I. agents at The Biograph Theatre in Chicago, Illinois, in 1934.
However, on at least one occasion, mob "business" was conducted here. It happened in the Fireside Room, which is located as a side room, just off the main cave with the stage. The story goes that 4 gangsters were playing cards on a table in front of the Fireside Room's handsome, stone fireplace, enjoying both the big band music and warmth from the fire. One well-dressed but shady looking fellow; (a big Louie type) who was carrying a case, talked to the band leader, and asked him, "Say, could yous quit early tonight? We have some unfinished business to take care of."
Not wanting to disappoint, the band did indeed leave in a timely manner. After the crowds had left, there was just the closing waitress, these 4 card players and man with a case. She volunteered to stay behind and close up after the card game, so everyone else went home. While in the kitchen, the waitress heard the popping sounds of a tommy gun. She ran to the fireplace room to find 3 gangsters on the floor, shot to death by the man with the case. This hit man had fled with his partner, who had been playing cards with the now dead men. She immediately called the police who asked her to stay outside.
When the police came back outside after some time, they asked her why she had filed a false police report, threatening to bust her if she didn't recant her story. The police claimed that they hadn't found anything amiss. Not to be intimidated, she marched into the fireplace room and showed them the bullet holes in the stones in the fireplace. While there wasn't any bodies or blood, the bullet holes told the story.
It is theorized that the three dead gangsters were dragged into one of the other caves and buried there, either by the two men who did the dastardly deed, or the police themselves.
Entities feel relaxed and happy in the caves and are not afraid to appear in front of the living.
Three entities of the gunned-down, gangster card players still hang out, going about their business and enjoying the music and events which take place in the caves. One of them doesn't care for disco.
These entities of these murdered gangsters have a soft spot for kids.
A big yes is in order.
The Wabasha Caves continue to be used by the living, as well as the dead. The entities hang around this favorite place for their own reasons, and enjoy watching the events which take place here.
wabashastreetcaves.com * Tour of the Wabasha Caves
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