While Minnesotans both relish and reject the moniker “flyover country”, we’ve definitely got a chip on our shoulder about being such a boring, safe, square place. The real action is on the coasts, nearly equidistant from our heavenly little patch of innocence – or so the story goes. Well, you can sweep that chip right off your shoulder, because there’s nothing innocent, boring or safe about Minnesota’s capitol city of crime.

According to Paul Maccabee, author of John Dillinger Slept Here, Saint Paul was a hotbed of unrepentant sin and crime. And the vileness that oozed from these streets was not only of its own making: Saint Paul was also a blazing beacon to the absolute worst criminals from all around the country. A slew of FBI’s Most Wanted took turns calling Saint Paul “home”: John Dillinger, Babyface Nelson, Machine Gun Kelly, Ma Barker, the list goes on. And on.

And when they came, they followed a specific protocol which guaranteed Saint Paul would reap all the rewards of their presence and none of the collateral damage. How in the world did Saint Paul manage to so easily regulate the wildly unpredictable behavior of violent thugs and murderers?

 

There is much more to the shady underbelly of Saint Paul, but for now, content yourself with removing the “boring” chip from your shoulder before you go to bed. Oh, and you might want to sleep with one eye open.

This segment was originally created for Saint Paul’s Historic Hill: Salvaging A Gilded Past.

________________________________________________________________________

Step inside Neumann’s Bar: MN’s oldest, continually active watering hole. Opening its doors in 1887, the bar became one of the notorious speakeasies of the 1920s – and let’s just say that gangsters found their way inside.

Minnesota is no stranger to notoriety when it comes to crime and criminals. In June 1977, the wealthy heiress Elizabeth Congdon and her nurse were murdered inside Glensheen Mansion on the North Shore. Congdon’s adopted daughter, Marjorie, and Marjorie’s then-husband were accused of the crime. But the fallout from the trial and subsequent suspicions for other crimes is the stuff of legend. Read all about it in Glensheen’s Gilded and Grisly Past.