A couple of weeks ago the ACFW MN NICE group got together for a little field trip in the Twin Cities. We went on the Wabasha Street Caves gangster tour! Did you know that St. Paul was a hotbed of gangster activity in the 1930s? I know, most folks think of Chicago or even New York when it comes to Prohibition Era Gangsters, but St. Paul was actually the Gangster Capitol of the world.
Why, you ask? It all goes back to the O'Connor System. Police Chief O'Connor decided 'If you can't beat 'em, join 'em,' and made St. Paul a safe-haven for gangsters on the lam. He only had three rules.
1. No crime within St. Paul city limits. (Which consequently made Minneapolis the bank-robbery capitol of the world for awhile.)
2. Check in with Harry Sawyer at the Green Lantern Tavern. (So when the FBI came knocking, the St. Paul police could drop a dime and let you know to get out of town ahead of the G-men.)
3. Make a donation to the Police Chief's Retirement Fund. (Hush money spread around the 20% of the police force that was crooked and the various politicians who were looking the other way.)
Below are some photos from our tour as well as a few 'mug shots' of the gangsters we learned about.
|Our group with our tour guide...and a genuine Tommy Gun!|
|Alvin "Creepy" Karpis, one time Public|
Enemy Number One and leader of the
Barker-Karpis Gang. He was an obsessive
planner, and he had a creepy stare,
hence the nickname.
|Doc Barker, unstable, vicious, and scary!|
|The Wabasha Street Caves. The lady in the red hat was our tour guide.|
|John Dillinger who visited St. Paul |
several times and was even shot
here, though he escaped.
|Ma Barker, who was not a gangster |
herself but who raised a nest of them.
|Tom Brown, the most corrupt policeman |
you'll ever find. He facilitated
the O'Connor System and aided in both
the commission and investigations
of the Bremer and Hamm kidnappings.
|The second time I took the tour|
(I've been three times now) this fellow
was our tour guide. He portrayed
John Dillinger, and he was great!!! :)
|Gabe's lovely daughters on the |
bus ready to get going on the tour!
If you'd like to read more about St. Paul Gangsters, check out this book:
My favorite is The Untouchables with Kevin Costner and Sean Connery.
Earl Grey Aficionado
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