Located on the south bank of the Mississippi River in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota area, the Wabasha Street Caves are a venue carved out of the sandstone caves. For the past 30 years, on every Thursday night, the caves have hosted Swing Night, with professional live Big Bands and vocalists performing the music of the classic Tommy Dorsey, Glenn Miller, Count Basie, and Duke Ellington Big Bands. Wabasha Street Caves host historical excursions and murder mystery tours.
The sandstone caverns, which are actually mines following human construction, have been in operation since the 1840s. The caves have served many purposes throughout history, from mushroom cultivation and food storage to musical performances and social gatherings.
The caves served as the Wabasha Street Speakeasy, a restaurant and nightclub, in the 1920s. There is no proof that mobsters like John Dillinger and Ma Barker ever visited the speakeasy, therefore the rumors that they did are just that: rumors.
Josie and William Lehmann opened the Castle Royal, which was constructed into the cave wall, in October 1933. Due to the outbreak of World War II, Castle Royal was shut down in the late 1930s and reverted to its original purpose of mushroom cultivation. Castle Royal 2 first started as a discotheque in the ’70s. The caves have also been utilized to store things that were swept away in floods, such as furniture and appliances. These artifacts persist in the caves to this day.
Reserve a spot on the Historic Cave Tour to explore the vast caverns hewn out of the hillside by miners who gave up in the 1800s. During the Prohibition era of the 1930s, these caves blossomed into a restaurant casino and gangster hotspot.
The Star Tribune named the casino the most haunted spot in Minnesota, and local newspapers reported on an unsolved gangland murder that took place there. There are weekly “Down in History” tours of the caves, as well as seasonal themes like “The Original Saint Paul Gangster Tour,” “Haunted Halloween,” “Ghosts & Graves,” and “Special Group Tours,” throughout the year. The Wabasha Street Caves, located in the centre of Saint Paul, are the ideal combination of the two.
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