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Shakopee in Scott County, Minnesota — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
 

Betting, Booze & Speakeasies • 1920-1940

Pathways of Shakopee History

— A self-guided tour on the development of the City of Shakopee —

 
 
Betting, Booze & Speakeasies • 1920-1940 Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, September 2, 2022
1. Betting, Booze & Speakeasies • 1920-1940 Marker
Inscription.  
During the Prohibition era, Shakopee had a reputation as the "Little Chicago." "Shakopee was a wide-open town!" said Hilary Drees. Shakopee was full of illegal gambling, drinking, music, and dancing when the 18th Amendment made it illegal to make, sell, or transport alcohol. It was not unusual for hoodlums and villains to come to Shakopee, such as John Dillinger, the Barker family, and notorious "Baby Face" Nelson.

During this time, most people in Shakopee had Fords and Chevrolets, but the cars in front of Rock Spring Café were very fancy. If anyone walking by looked inside, they would not see many people. A local guard could be seen standing near the basement door, where the gambling machines and other equipment were kept. Only "secret clientele," usually from the Twin Cities, were allowed into the basement of the restaurant.

The Rock Spring Café, Riviera Supper Club, The Mill Pond Club (the largest casino and speakeasy in the area) and other local establishments had runners who would inform these places when raids were coming. They had safe houses, including one on Sommerville Street across from St. Mary's School. There
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were 30 or 40 safe houses, where slot machines were stored for hours or a day or two until it was safe to return them. The Mill Pond Club had a safe house at the top of their parking lot which had several gun portals on the walls used for shooting, if needed.

In late 1941, slot machines soon disappeared as newly appointed sheriff J.P. Wermerskirchen confiscated and destroyed many of them.

Speakeasies & Nightclubs
"Shakopee was really a community by itself, cut off by the Minnesota River and the river bottoms" said Shakopee resident Joe Jenn. "Back in the 1930s, the town was a little Las Vegas. We had 33 beer joints at one time and notorious nightclubs like Rock Springs and the Riviera. People, including gangsters, came here for booze, women, and gambling; the mayor, sheriff, and city councilmen went along with it all. A garage was established on Lewis Street. In the rear door off the alley was a receiving depot for boxes of liquor."
 
Erected by Pathways of Shakopee History; and Canterbury Commons/Canterbury Park. (Marker Number 5.)
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: EntertainmentIndustry & CommerceLaw Enforcement. A significant historical year for this entry is 1941.
 
Location. 44° 48.09′ N, 93° 30.284′ W. Marker is in
Marker detail: Shakopee Brewery image. Click for full size.
Mike Huber Collection
2. Marker detail: Shakopee Brewery
Shakopee, Minnesota, in Scott County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of County Road 101 (Business U.S. 169) and Sarazin Street, on the right when traveling west. Marker is located along the Pathways of Shakopee History Trail, which begins near the west end of Memorial Park. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1801 County Road 101, Shakopee MN 55379, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. On The River Bottoms (within shouting distance of this marker); Stagecoaches to Shakopee (within shouting distance of this marker); Rollin' Down the River 1842 (within shouting distance of this marker); The Springs (within shouting distance of this marker); Pond Mission (within shouting distance of this marker); Who Else Was Here (within shouting distance of this marker); Powerful Names (within shouting distance of this marker); The Ox Cart Trail to Shakopee (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Shakopee.
 
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. Pathways of Shakopee History Trail
 
Also see . . .
1. Shakopee History: 1920-1930s – Little Chicago.
During the Prohibition era, Shakopee had the reputation as a “Little Chicago” with a past that included illegal gambling. In 1940, an extortion ring was discovered as merchants
Marker detail: Shakopee image. Click for full size.
Mike Huber Collection
3. Marker detail: Shakopee
paid to avoid raids on slot machines.
(Submitted on December 30, 2022, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 

2. Every town has its legends. This is Shakopee's.
During the 1930s, Shakopee used to buzz with electric energy on Saturday nights. At night, bouncers stood outside the speakeasies and charged covers for “entertainment,” which everyone knew was code for access to alcohol and gambling. And you’d better either know the bouncer, or know the secret code to get inside, or you’d be sent marching. The Scott County Sheriff at the time would warn the gaming commission when law enforcement came in for raids. Bootleggers would come from upstream with their treasured alcohol and, in a man-made assembly line, hand off the bottles to runners who navigated through underground tunnels and emerged inside speakeasies that were connected to bars further up the shore.
(Submitted on December 30, 2022, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 
 
Marker detail: Busted Slot Machines image. Click for full size.
Mike Huber Collection
4. Marker detail: Busted Slot Machines
Marker detail: Busted Slot Machines • 1942 image. Click for full size.
Mike Huber Collection
5. Marker detail: Busted Slot Machines • 1942
Marker detail: Riviera Supper Club image. Click for full size.
Betty Robinette Collection
6. Marker detail: Riviera Supper Club
Marker detail: Timeline Photos image. Click for full size.
7. Marker detail: Timeline Photos
Marker detail: Timeline Photos image. Click for full size.
8. Marker detail: Timeline Photos
Betting, Booze & Speakeasies • 1920-1940 Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, circa September 2, 2022
9. Betting, Booze & Speakeasies • 1920-1940 Marker
(looking northeast from Pathways of Shakopee History Trail • Memorial Park is in background - beyond right edge)
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on December 30, 2022. It was originally submitted on December 28, 2022, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 334 times since then and 156 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on December 29, 2022, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.   2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. submitted on December 30, 2022, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.   9. submitted on December 29, 2022, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.

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Jul. 21, 2024