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Gangsters in Wisconsin – Capone, Dillinger

It’s tough researching much of this stuff, because frankly all is hearsay. Capone didn’t exactly always sign the guest registry or post his vacation plans in his hometown newspaper. I have had two people so far give me some information and request that their names not be used. One property owner has gone on record extensively denying Capone had ever stayed there. Frankly I’d think the Capone connection is a good marketing draw, but for some reason a few people shy away from it.

The new Johnny Depp movie Public Enemies was filmed up here and now on top of the legends of gangsters there will also be places where Johnny Depp slept. Little Bohemia is the site of the big shootout between John Dillinger and the Feds and for years they have used this as a draw. They’ve even preserved the bullet-holes in the windows. Back in the 40s and 50s even celebrities like Clark Gable were stopping in to see the place.

Once people start talking, the stories roll out. Pretty amazing stuff and quite funny at times. The film crew carpenters were in 4 weeks in advance of the 3-week shoot so they could remove all non-1930s material and build false walls, remove the original windows (only to put more bullets holes in the new ones eventually). Quite the production and I am looking forward to seeing the movie July 1. But the biggest piece of gold I took out of this visit was a name and number. I am hoping to snag an interview with an eyewitness to the Dillinger shootout. He was 8 at the time and the son of the owner!

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Kevin Revolinski

Author, travel writer/photographer, world traveler. Writes about travel, hiking, camping, paddling, and craft beer.

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