Day 4-7 St. Paul/Minneapolis, Minnesota   Leave a comment

We had the most beautiful drive down the Great River Road to reach near the St. Paul area.

Not much time before we jumped on our bus and headed to the Chanhassen Live Broadway Show and Dinner Theatre to see “Hello Dolly.” What a great show! Unfortunately, we were not allow to take photos.

We began our first full day of touring with a “Gangster Tour.” We learned about John Dillinger, Ma Barker and her boys, “Dapper” Dan Hogan, Alvin “Creepy” Karpis. Who would have thought that all these gangsters were in St. Paul/Minneapolis area!

We first visited the Wabasha Street Caves.

The caves, which technically are mines because they are man-made, are carved out of sandstone and date back to the 1840s. They have been home to mobsters, speakeasies, disco in the 70s and in more recent years have begun hosting a “Swing Night” on Thursday nights with live big-band music.

Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Historic Society
Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Historic Society

What an interesting place to visit! The inside temperature is always 52 degrees, so they have a furnace that is run all year long to warm it in the winter AND warm it in the summer! If you are in the St. Paul area, you should definitely check it out.

We visited the “Old Post Office/Courthouse”

It was interesting to “stand” in the actual room used to convict John Dillinger’s girlfriend. Or should I say “one” of his girlfriends. Although Dillinger was wanted for murder and bank robbery, he really wasn’t a murderer. He murdered only a few and only because he was being shot at. Now the Barker gang is another story. They actually enjoyed killing people. Coincidentally, we actually saw the house this past April that Ma Barker and her son, Fred, were killed in Oklawaha, Florida, on January 16, 1935. I assume they didn’t want to be in the St. Paul area in January!

We stopped at the Minnesota History Museum and saw a special exhibit, Toys of the 50s, 60s, and 70s.

It was really cool to see the toys we used to play with, but we could not believe this museum included the toys our CHILDREN played with!

We stopped at the Minnehaha Water Falls and were surprised to find how much water was flowing through.

Normally in September, the creek is almost dry. The creek is a tributary of the Mississippi River. The creek is really only known because of the 53 foot falls. And normally this time of year, the falls are just a trickle.

The falls became a tourist destination, especially after the 1855 publication of The Song of Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Our last stop of the day was St. Paul’s Cathedral.

What perfect timing! We were able to see the sacristy, the area behind the alter where the priests prepare for mass.

The following day, we took a riverboat lunch cruise on the Mississippi River.

On the pier, the building is marked where the flood waters reached in April 1965 at the top, April 2001, and June 2014.

Wow, the pier is much higher than the river and the waters came up this high! On the river walk, you’ll find a tree trunk with carvings of several different animals. Can you find any?

We had some free time in the afternoon, so we went over to the James J Hill Mansion, bottom left. His son built a house next door, which is pictured bottom right.

James Hill, builder of the Great Northern Railway, completed this 36,000 square foot house in 1891 for his wife and 10 children, although 2 or 3 of his children were already married or in college.

The pipe organ above left has over 3,000 pipes! The stairway above right leads to the children’s play room which runs the entire top floor, which included a stage, curtain and lights!

Above left is a closet for one of the girl’s bedrooms. Since the “hangar” was not yet invented, dresses were stored in drawers. It’s amazing that this house had electric and inside bathrooms.

The kitchen and laundry room are located in the basement.

Check out how clothes were dried, on pull out racks with hot piping underneath to help them dry faster.

Also located in the basement are the quarters for the head staff person. Pictured below, left is an apparatus which was used to identify what staff person was being summoned. If you look closely, you can see that the #18 has been “tripped.” Below, right is the boiler which heats the house. When they burned coal, it was nothing to shovel 1 ton per day.

On our free day, we took a motorcycle ride with our friends Martha and Chuck.

Above are photos of the Mississippi River from the Buena Vista Park. WHAT A GORGEOUS VIEW!

We had a beautiful sunset on the ride home.

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