The Wabasha Street Caves

One of the most interesting historic treasures which Saint Paul has to offer is the Wabasha Street Caves.  An event hall has actually been built into the sandstone caves located on the south shore of the Mississippi River in the City’s downtown.  Wabasha Street Caves are located on Wabasha Street, just south of Platt Blvd.  The caves are steeped in St. Paul history.

Originally, the caves were dug out by miners extracting the fine sand during the 1840s.  The silica was used for creating glass.  After the sandstone was removed, it was used as a storage area for food because of its cool temperatures.  In the early 1900s, it was discovered that the damp, dark caves offered ideal conditions for growing mushrooms.  The owners began growing mushrooms which were so popular they were shipped all over the country and eventually overseas.  This enterprise lasted for a number of years. 

However, the 1920s era of Prohibition changed the City of Saint Paul, as it changed many other cities at the time.  The caves became an ideal location for a commodity more lucrative than mushrooms: alcohol.  The cave was cleaned and scrubbed before it was set up as a speakeasy for well-heeled and powerful people.  The Caves became an underground haven for gangsters and bootleggers, including such notables as John Dillinger, Ma Barker and Babyface Nelson spent many evenings hidden away in the caves.

After Prohibition was repealed, it became a high end night club called The Castle Royal, where people could come, eat good food, dance to big bands and musical acts performing on stage, or play cards in the adjoining room.  The Castle Royal had a 1,600 sq foot dance floor and 60 foot bars.  There was an elegant dining area near the dance floor, a bar, a and a card playing area, in addition to a kitchen, a food and liquor storage area, and the reception room.  The Castle Royal was successful throughout the 1930s, but closed its doors when World War 2 began in 1941.

The Caves fell into disuse.  However, they were used at a point in the 1940s as a storage area for debris left by a major Mississippi flood.  Otherwise, for nearly 30 years, the caves were devoid of any real action.

Then during the 1970s, the caves were opened back up as The Castle Royal 2.  It was a Disco dance hall and supper club.  While Disco is no longer the music of choice, which is basically what the venue is today.  Primarily reserved for private parties, Thursday nights are Swing Night at the Wabasha Street Caves with dance lessons starting at 6:15 PM and live bands preforming from 7-10 PM.  You can also tour the Caves every weekend. Other historic St. Paul tours start at the Caves as well.   Visit  to learn more.

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