Wabasha Street Caves closing for good in November

The haunted caves have been an event venue for years.
Author:
Updated:
Original:
wabasha street caves

The Wabasha Street Caves in St. Paul is closing at the end of November.

The street caves, on Wabasha Street, is an historic 12,000-square-foot event facility that offers gangster and cave tours, and is said to be haunted.

The venue will close Nov. 30. Owners Donna and Stephen Bremer have owned the caves since 1994 and she told the Star Tribune they've been closed since March due to the coronavirus pandemic and are losing money because its taken in no revenue, while still having to pay the bills.

“We have been closed since March 18, and with the fear of COVID-19, most of our tours and events for 2020 have canceled,” Donna Bremer wrote in a recent email to customers, according to the Pioneer Press.

“We are expecting the same will be true for this summer’s public ‘Historic Cave Tours’ and ‘Saint Paul Gangster Tours,’ so with much regret and lots of tears we are going to be closing."

The venue's events, such as swing nights and cave tours, on the Wabasha Street Caves' website are canceled through the beginning of June.

BMTN has reached out to Wabasha Street Caves for comment.

Sign up for our BREAKING NEWS newsletters

History of the caves

Seven manmade caves make up the Wabasha Street Caves. They were mined – using pickaxes – in 1849 for the silica, which was used to make glass, Cynthia Smith told BMTN in 2017.

It's among the 80-90 caves in St. Paul that are located near the Mississippi River, but they're the only caves that are privately owned. Most of the others are blocked off to prevent trespassers.

By the late 1800s – after the Wabasha Street Caves were abandoned as mines – they were used as a mushroom farm. Then when Prohibition came along, the owners of the cave opened a speakeasy.

Prohibition came to an end in 1933, so the mushroom farm owners decided to open a legal place to drink, called the Castle Royal.

Smith said it was a classy, expensive space that cost $1 a plate for dinner (that's about $100 today).

And people in St. Paul could afford it. That's because it was full of gangsters who earned their money by stealing it from others.

Among the gangsters who visited the Castle Royal were "Baby Face" Nelson, "Pretty Boy" Floyd, "Doc" and Freddie Barker, and John Dillinger himself.

In 1934, three gangsters were murdered with a Thompson submachine gun while standing near the fireplace in the Castle Royal (you can see the bullet holes in the fireplace). Their bodies are believed to have been buried somewhere in the unfinished caves. (They're not the ones who haunt the caves, though.)

Castle Royal ended up closing in 1940, with the mushroom farm moving out in 1965. During that time, Land O' Lakes also made cheese in the caves.

The caves were abandoned for a few years, but then opened as a disco in the late 1970s. It closed in the 1980s and the caves were abandoned again until the current owners bought it.

After learning about the caves' history with gangsters – and now the ghosts – the owners got into the event and tour business.

Next Up

Adam Thielen

Vikings place Adam Thielen on COVID-19/reserve list

Thielen is coming off a two-touchdown game against the Cowboys.

MCF Oak Park Heights

COVID-positive inmate at Oak Park Heights prison dies

He becomes the fourth prison inmate to die from the virus.

Screen Shot 2020-11-23 at 1.08.19 PM

2-ton smoker stolen from Twin Cities chef Thomas Boemer

Boemer is the chef behind restaurants including the popular Revival.

Governor Tim Walz

Walz says relief package is coming for Minnesota small businesses

Walz is prepared to call a special session and pass the package immediately.

Governor Tim Walz

Watch live: Gov. Tim Walz COVID-19 press conference Monday

Walz will be introducing a new app that helps Minnesotans track COVID-19 exposures.

Related

Video: We visited the haunted Wabasha Street Caves

There are 25-30 ghosts in the caves at any given time, a psychic said.

Screen Shot 2020-09-21 at 8.23.17 AM

Minneapolis restaurant Bardo closes for good

The restaurant switched from fine dining to a casual concept in hopes of surviving the pandemic.

Screen Shot 2019-08-10 at 9.53.23 PM

Choo Choo Bob's Train Store is closing for good

The popular St. Paul children's toy store is holding a moving sale this weekend.

mccormick and schmick's

McCormick and Schmick's Minneapolis location is closed for good

It's the latest restaurant to close since the pandemic started.

butcher and the boar

Butcher and the Boar in Minneapolis closes for good

Several factors played into the decision to close the restaurant, the owner said.

billy's on grand

Coronavirus: Billy's on Grand will close for winter

The restaurant is among a growing list of eateries to close for the winter months.