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Top 4 ‘Up North’ getaways Al Capone is rumored to have stayed in Minnesota and Wisconsin

Where did an infamous mobster go when he needed a little rest and relaxation? Residents of the North Shore and Iron Range have long boasted their backyard as the bootlegger’s land of leisure.

Pictured is Al Capone, along with two photos of the Naniboujou Lodge, where he is rumored to have stayed. The Lodge is located along Minnesota's North Shore.
Pictured is Al Capone, along with two photos of the Naniboujou Lodge, where he is rumored to have stayed. The Lodge, built in the late 1920s, is located along Minnesota's North Shore. During its time, the exclusive club was for members only and included famous clientele from throughout the country, including Babe Ruth. <br/>
Photos illustration - Trisha Taurinskas/Photos courtesy of FBI and Naniboujou Lodge
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Tales of Al Capone’s secret Northland getaways and hideouts have swirled throughout the state of Minnesota for decades. Residents of the North Shore and Iron Range have long boasted their backyard as the bootlegger’s land of leisure.

Verifying those claims has become increasingly difficult over the years, yet that doesn’t stop Minnesotans — and Wisconsites — from claiming the notorious Capone as, kind of, their own.

The stories that are told today have become somewhat of gangster lore, sprinkled with truth and laden with mysteriousness.

Northern Wisconsin escape

It might seem odd that America’s most notorious gangsters of the 1920s and '30s considered northern Wisconsin and Minnesota the place to be, particularly in the summer. Yet, when compared to the rest of wealthy Chicagoans, their retreat to the North woods wasn’t all that bizarre. It’s where many of the city’s elite traveled for summer relaxation.

al-capone hideout.jpg
Living room at "the Hideout," the Northwoods retreat of Chicago gangster Al Capone during Prohibition, Couderay, Wisconsin, in 1980.
Courtesy / Carol M. Highsmith via Library of Congress

Of all the areas Capone was rumored to have stayed, the location in Couderay, Wisconsin, gets the most attention.

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Spanning more than 400 acres, the property includes a structure with 18-inch stone walls, providing an added dose of safety. The property also included guard towers, hovering above the nearly 40-acre lake the property bordered. It’s rumored to also have included a gun tower.

While certainly a relaxing alternative to Chicago life, the retreat wasn’t just about hiding out. Al Capone and his crew would receive shipments of alcohol from Canada, which were flown over the border by seaplanes, according to the Library of Congress.

The property, which also includes a bar and restaurant, went up for sale in 2009, with a starting price of $2.6 million. It was sold to Chippewa Valley Bank.

Naniboujou Social Club

The Naniboujou Social Club opened in 1928 in Cook County, along the North Shore. The grand, private lodge was created for the nation’s elite, providing a private — and extravagant — retreat from the country’s larger cities.

In addition to celebrity members like Babe Ruth, the members-only club is also rumored to have included members from the organized crime community, including Al Capone.

naniboujou.jpg
Naniboujou Club or Naniboujou Lodge in Cook County, Minnesota, near Grand Marais, pictured in about 1928.
Courtesy / Hugh McKenzie via Minnesota Digital Library

The resort itself, including the property surrounding the structures, spanned 3,300 acres. The deep woods offered attendees hunting opportunities — and privacy.

Memberships weren’t given out lightly. The 99-year memberships went for $200 in the 1920s, according to the company’s website. Rather than advertising the club, the exclusiveness was promoted through friends of friends.

Lutsen 

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Lutsen Resort is among the locations up the North Shore that also claims to have been a hideout for the infamous Chicago bootlegger.

According to Lutsen Resort History, Al Capone stayed at the resort in the 1920s with a female companion. Upon checking out, the resort owners noted the fish house they rented was full of bullet holes. Capone paid an extra $20 for the damage.

Early 1900s scene
Lutsen Resort started as a homestead that lodged travelers who went up the North Shore. This is a scene from the early 1900s. (Photo courtesy of Lutsen Resort)

The story surrounding how the bullet holes came to be is now a tale of legend and lore, with some suggesting a gun battle on Minnesota’s side of Lake Superior.

Finland

Another infamous — and grand — location that Capone frequented is rumored to be located outside the sleepy North Shore town of Finland, Minn.

While difficult to pin down specifics, a story in Northern Wilds provides details from locals who recall hearing the stories of the Capone getaway.

The residence included a main lodge, a swimming pool and a horse stable. A number of cabins for guests also lined the property.

Stories of Capone's Finland getaway also include notice of a large, underground safe where it is presumed Capone kept ammunition.

The property was located along Heffelfinger Road, according to Northern Wilds .

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Trisha Taurinskas is an enterprise crime reporter for Forum Communications Co., specializing in stories related to missing persons, unsolved crime and general intrigue. Her work is primarily featured on The Vault.

Trisha is also the host of The Vault podcast.

Trisha began her journalism career at Wisconsin Public Radio. She transitioned to print journalism in 2008, and has since covered local and national issues related to crime, politics, education and the environment.

Trisha can be reached at ttaurinskas@forumcomm.com.
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