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Ultimate Guide to Wabasha Street Caves, Minnesota (Tours, Pricing, History, Map)

Ultimate Guide to Wabasha Street Caves, Minnesota (Tours, Pricing, History, Map)

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Wabasha Street Caves is a yesteryear event hall built into the sandstone caves on the Mississippi River’s southern shore. The caves have been home to speakeasies, mob meetings, live vocalists, and dances that were open to the public. The Wabasha Street Cave tours are one of the best cave tours you will ever have. 

Ultimate Guide to Wabasha Street Caves, Minnesota (Tours, Pricing, History, Map)

Wabasha Street Caves, Minnesota

Every visitor comes to Wabasha to learn about the history of these sandstone caves. You will get an opportunity to view the original mined caves and hear the legends of the gangster massacre that supposedly took place here. 

History of Wabasha Street Caves

The Wabasha Street caves are technically called mines as they are man-made. The caves were carved of sandstone, and their origins date to the 1840s. Throughout history, the caves have been used for multiple activities such as storing food, live music, dancing, and growing mushrooms.

Indigenous tribes used these caves before the arrival of the European settlers in the area. In 1840, natural silica used to be mined from the caves and was used for glass making. In the early 1900s, a French family developed a mushroom farm here. 

In the 1920s, the caves were used as a dining place and a nightclub known as Wabasha Street Speakeasy. It is said that the speakeasy was visited by noted gangsters like Ma Barker and John Dillinger, but there is no concrete evidence available to support these claims. So, stories of the gangsters visiting the caves are, at best, considered legends. 

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In October 1933, Josie and William Lehmann opened the Castle Royal, which was constructed into the side of the caves. However, it was soon closed due to World War II, and the room became a place for growing mushrooms. In the 1970s, Castle Royal 2 was opened as the venue for disco music.

The caves were also used to keep the debris washed up during the flooring. Some of these things can be found in the caves even today. The caves continued to be an event spot till 2019. The caves are now said to be haunted by the murdered gangsters and speakeasy patrons. 

Geological Cave Formations in Wabasha Street Caves

Since the Wabasha Street caves are man-made, no known geological formations exist inside the cave.

Wildlife in Wabasha Street Caves

The street caves are fully man-made, were home to mobsters, speakeasies, and were also used as a nightclub. The caves are used as a storage place for mushrooms, but there are no known wildlife species in this cave. 

Wabasha street caves interior

Are Wabasha Street Caves Haunted?

The caves are said to be one of the most haunted places in Minnesota. However, the ghosts which inhabit the caves are not of cavemen but gangsters. In the Prohibition era, caves were mainly used as speakeasies.

The Wabasha Street Speakeasy has been a hideout for gangsters, such as Ma Barker & John Dillinger, for a long time. Afterward, the cave owners opened another speakeasy, the Castle Royal. The speakeasies were hugely successful during the 1930s, but the caves were closed to the public after World War II.

The caves were then used to grow mushrooms. This continued until the 1970s when the caves became a new dance club called Castle Royal 2. Since the caves were opened, many reported sightings of people who laid their lives doing ‘mob business’ in these caves. There is a side room of the main cave known as the Fireside Room, which was the main hub for the mob. 

inside the wabasha street caves

The local legends say that a shootout occurred at one time in the Fireside Room wherein three gangsters were killed, and one got away with the man who came in later and presumably shot the others with the Tommy gun. The police were called in, but they did not find any bodies or evidence and accused the waitress of false police report filing. 

There have been reports of sightings of one of the gangsters walking past the cave visitors, glaring at the visitors, or disappearing into a cave wall. The main cave at Wabasha has a stage where the live performances were held. In the 1970s, many people claimed that the equipment would fly off the stage without any apparent explanation. 

There have been other sightings – of a spooky woman in the bar area, a man wearing a Panama hat. Another story says that a ball had bounced into the men’s bathroom, and the young boy, who was playing with the ball, saw a man dressed in gangster clothes smiling at him and then disappeared into thin air after winking at the boy. 

It is advisable not to venture deep into the caves alone to see the ghostly figures. This is because the caves are very dangerous, as there have been many deaths due to carbon monoxide poisoning. 

How Big are the Caves?

The caves occupy a total area of 12,000 square feet. 

Wabasha Street Caves Tours

Wabasha Street Caves are not open for the public to explore freely, and visitors can choose from a wide range of tours that varies in length and price. The tours will give you an excellent overview of the caves’ history and the legacy in St Paul.  

Historic Cave Tour (1 hour)

This is the only remaining and fully restored gangster-era site. Newspapers of that time had reported an unsolved gangster massacre at the site. The tour guide will point out the bullet holes, and many people believe that the caves are haunted by the murdered gangsters whose bodies were never found.

The original Bar from the 1930s has been fully restored, and another popular attraction here is the Swing Dancing with the Big Band Music on Thursday evenings. Reservation is not required for this tour. 

Saint Paul Gangster Tour (2 hours)

The Saint Paul Gangster Tour is a Bus tour that starts at the Castle Royal Gangsters nightclub, known today as Wabasha Street caves. Through this tour, you will learn why Saint Paul was a center for all kinds of criminal operations during the Prohibition era of the 1930s.

The route will cover all the major gangster sites within the 5-mile radius of St Paul, where the gangster carried out some of the most notorious crimes. The tour will take the visitors past the gangster hideouts and the nightclubs where the gangsters spent some time socializing. Reservations are required for this tour. 

 Lost Souls Cave Tour (1 hour)

It is a special one-hour cave tour focusing on the caves’ haunted events. Although the tour guide will be a haunted character, the tour is not intended to frighten you. Some people believe caves are haunted by the murdered gangsters whose bodies were never recovered. Haunted happenings have taken place in the caves since this incident. The tour ends with an enjoyable slide show that showcases some of the stories about these caves. One can bring his camera to take pictures. 

Troll Tales

It is a fun-filled tour for the kids only during holiday breaks. The kids are given a hands-on tour of the caves guided by the trolls. There are photo sessions and meet and greet opportunities too. 

Swing Dancing Nights

The Dancing Nights take place every Thursday between 7 pm to 10 pm. People are allowed to get in at 6:30 pm for the dance lessons. 


Wabasha Street Caves Tour Prices and Discounts

We already know that visitors are spoilt for choices when asked to choose a tour of the Wabasha Street Caves. Although there are plenty of tours on offer, we must understand that each tour has a different price which we must be aware of. 

  • Historic Cave Tour – USD 10 + USD 1 as a convenience fee
  • Saint Paul Gangster Tour – USD 40
  • Cave Tour + Gangster Tour (3 hours) – USD 50 
  • Lost Souls Cave Tour – USD 15
  • Troll Tales – USD 8
  • Swing Dancing Nights – USD 10

Are Wabasha Street Caves Cold?

The temperature of the caves remains around 54 degrees throughout the year. It created an ideal environment for growing mushrooms and storing cheese. 

What to Wear?

Touring the Wabasha Street Caves involves a lot of walking. So, investing in a good pair of walking shoes is good. You can wear loose, comfortable clothes as visiting these caves do not involve crawling or squeezing. 

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Wabasha Street Caves Hours

  • Cave Tour Times: Thursday – 5 pm, Saturday and Sunday – 11 am
  • Swing Dance Nights: Thursday – 7 pm
  • Lost Souls Tours: Last Sunday of each month at 12:30 pm

What to Do at the Street Caves (Beside Tours)

There are a lot of attractions near the caves. So, once the caves tour is over, you can check out several tourist attractions within less than a one-mile distance from Wabasha Street Caves. Some popular attractions are Wabasha Brewing Company, the Science Museum of Minnesota, and the Wabasha Street Bridge. 

Best Time to Visit Wabasha Street Caves

Wabasha Street Caves is not season dependent and can be visited any time of the year. We suggest that you come here on a Thursday so that you get to enjoy the cave tour and the Swing Dance nights. 

How to Get to Wabasha Street Caves

Wabasha Street Caves are located just across the beautiful river from downtown St Paul on the famous Wabasha Street. 

Hotels near Wabasha Street Caves

There are several decent accommodation options near Wabasha Street Caves, such as Radisson Hotel St Paul Downtown, The Saint Paul Hotel, and Celeste St Paul. 

Places To Stay Nearby

Wabasha Street Caves Fun Facts

  • During the Prohibition Era, Wabasha Street caves have been home to mobsters and speakeasies. 
  • The caves are, technically speaking, mines as they are man-made and carved out of sandstone. 
  • The caves have been used as storage for debris that came up with the floods. It was also used for the storage of cheese. 
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Wabasha Street Caves Details 

  • Length: 12,000 sq ft
  • Time Recommended: 2 to 3 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Kid-friendly: Yes
  • Dog-friendly: Yes
  • Fees: USD 10 for adults, USD 8 for kids, and kids under 2 years of age are admitted free.
  • Hours: Mon, Wed, Fri – 9 am to 4 pm, Thu – 12 to 10 pm, Saturday – 10:30 am to 5 pm, Sun – 10:30 am to 4 pm

Download our Wabasha Street Caves Guide (Unofficial) 

Visiting Wabasha Street Caves

Do you need more information before visiting Wabasha Street Caves? Call (651) 224 – 1191 for an information packet. 

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