When you think of Wisconsin, gangsters probably don’t come to mind. However, Wisconsin’s history is rife with gangster activity, hideouts, and legends. If you have an interest in John Dillinger, Al Capone or any of the other outlaws of the 1920’s and 30’s, here are a list of things you’ll want to see the next time you vacation in Wisconsin.
Nightclubs and Restaurants
Little Bohemia Lodge – This establishment still serves as a restaurant, and has been preserved to maintain its unique history. There are still bullet holes in the wall from a fight between John Dillinger and the FBI in 1934. This site was used as a location in the film Public Enemies.
Norwood Pines Supper Club – This restaurant was a popular hangout for gangsters back in the 1920’s. Nestled in a red pine forest, the restaurant still operates today, and is known for their ribs and seafood. Join them on Friday nights for an all-you-can-eat fish fry!
Hotels and Inns
Watersedge Bed & Breakfast – Built in the late 1800’s, this beautiful bed and breakfast was a popular spot for gangsters, and doubled as a speakeasy. It was frequented by Bugs Moran, who stayed their often to avoid the police.
French Country Inn – Located in Geneva Lakes, this hotel was a hideaway for Al Capone, Bugs Moran, John Dillinger and Baby Face Nelson. Back then it was called the Lake Como Hotel, and was supposedly connected to an speakeasy called the Sewer via underground tunnels. Today, the Inn offers award-winning entrees and beautiful European-style rooms.
Barker Lake Lodge – This charming and rustic lodge was once owned by Chicago gang leader “Polack Joe” Saltis, who was also a bootlegger and operated a speakeasy. He built the lodge in the 1920’s as a getaway, and includes a golf course, which still exists today.
Other Historic Sites
Racine Art Museum – The museum was once the American Bank and Trust, and was robbed by John Dillinger and his gang in 1933. In 1941, the building became an art museum, but has also housed exhibits on Dillinger and the robbery.
Milwaukee County Historical Society Building – This building was used in the filming of Public Enemies. Milwaukee in general was a popular place for gangsters to hang out, and several of the scenes from the movie were filmed there.
To learn more about Wisconsin’s illicit past, visit their tourism page for more information and links. No matter which locations you visit on your vacation in Wisconsin, you’ll have an interesting story to tell.