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Pssst... Iron Range town opening door to secret Prohibition-era tunnel


It seems there's always a lot happening underground on Minnesota's Iron Range. That will be particularly true in Bovey Friday night, when locals revisit a slice of the town's history by opening a Prohibition-era tunnel to the public.

It's thought to have once been a link between speakeasies and a handy escape route for bootleggers, but today the tunnel connects an antique mall with a restaurant.

The folks at Annabella's Antique Mall organized Friday evening's event and are inviting guests to dress the part. Entry to the tunnel will require a password.

We'd tell you what it is, but then we'd have to kil.. No. We'll just let you find it in this video about Bovey's history, which includes a re-enactment of how the tunnel may have been used. (Find the tunnel part about 4:45 in.)

In his Minnesota Brown blog, Iron Range author Aaron J. Brown writes that the area was home to a robust bootlegging scene during the years when alcohol was illegal.

Canadian suppliers and a network of backwoods road were part of it. But Brown also points out that the Range had a head start. Alcohol purveyors had already gone underground because a treaty with their Ojibwe neighbors had officially banned liquor, he writes.

Prohibition tunnels, of course, were not just an Iron Range thing.

In April a story in the St. Peter Herald looked at the subterranean passages there. Some are thought to date back to the 1800s. They were used by refugees from the Dakota Conflict of 1862 and more recently by patients looking to escape from the Minnesota Security Hospital – or so the stories say.

In Minneapolis, the area around St. Anthony Falls on the Mississippi River is also said to be rife with tunnels. In 2012 a WCCO reporter ventured into one under the Pillsbury A Mill.

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