Capone's Sunken Speakeasy?

By Nick Christophers
We have all heard stories about Al Capone—maybe too many. I once was sent to investigate a home in Amityville, Long Island, where he supposedly briefly lived when they were loading booze from Canada, but didn't find any convincing evidence that the house, located in an area called “Rum Row," was his.
The Keuka vessel
Did Capone run a floating speakeasy aboard the Keuka? 

Recently, I came across an interesting find by underwater photographer and author Chris Roxburgh, who claims to have found the floating speakeasy Capone had in the late '20s. The wreck was the vessel the Keuka, which sank in 1932 in Traverse City, Michigan. That boat was built in 1889 and was christened the A. Stewart before the name was changed to the Keuka. The ship is 200 feet long and over two stories tall.

In 1929 the boat had its grand opening as a "dance hall,” but it was really used to serve alcohol during Prohibition. Capone allegedly supplied the booze for the floating speakeasy. From 1929 to 1932, Capone’s men purportedly oversaw the selling alcohol to the owner of the vessel, where folks paid $1.50 for entry. People back then near Lake Charlevoix claimed that they had seen Capone in the area often. It is said that he even had a few “hideout” houses in Michigan.

It was a popular location for folks trying to quench their thirst back then. But the fate of the speakeasy and the boat itself was not a good one. On New Year's Day 1931 a dispute between a drunken patron and manager Ed Latham ended with the patron fatally shooting Latham. At that point, a church group quickly protested for the closure of the speakeasy to rid the area of its evil influence.

No one knows what happened to the shooter, but Captain JH Gallagher went ahead and shut it down. The following year, the Keuka sank. There was no clear explanation of how or why. 

The boat now lies under about 50 feet of water. Whether it truly was a Capone speakeasy is up for debate but there are shreds of evidence supporting the idea. Yours truly would like to see it to believe it, but you never know.