Wisconsin - A Gangster’s Legendary Hideaway

Saturday, June 11, 2011

My state of Wisconsin is a wonderland if you enjoy outdoor sports and recreation, with its boundless beauty and natural surroundings. In fact, forest land in Wisconsin covers 16 million acres (64,749 km²) or 46% of the total state. It’s definitely pretty but it has another benefit, especially if you need to disappear. Let me explain....

During the time of Prohibition in the United States, from 1920 to 1933, it was illegal to sell, manufacture, or transport alcohol. Although it was successful in reducing the amount of alcohol consumed, it also led to the widespread increase of organized criminal activity. So when public enemies needed some peace and a place to hide, that usually meant Wisconsin.

Attracted to the region’s rustic beauty and remoteness, Chicago gangsters and most-wanted criminals regularly sought refuge in Northern Wisconsin hideaways. In some cases these visits were all business (transporting liquor or organizing local prostitution and gambling operations); sometimes they were after highly publicized robberies in other states. Al Capone, John Dillinger, and Baby Face Nelson are among the most notorious criminals who used the dense forests of Wisconsin to hide out, and even though Prohibition ended in 1933, their history and some of their hangouts live on across the Northwoods region.

Al Capone was the most infamous of all Prohibition-era gangsters and legends of his visits can be heard at resorts, restaurants, and bars all across Wisconsin. His Northwoods hideout was called, literally, The Hideout and it remains intact as a seasonal tourist attraction today. The 400 acre (1.6 km²) estate featured a main lodge, lake, bunk house, and jail cell, as well as an airstrip where planes from Canada would land and drop off alcohol that the gangsters would illegally transport to Chicago.

Why not plan your “escape” to Wisconsin? You can live like a gangster on the run (I promise) and visit some of their infamous hideaways.

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