Al Capone’s Ozark Hideaway?

Al Capone's summer retreat?

BRANSON, Mo., January 5, 2013 — When Main Street Lake Cruises’ Lake Queen slipped her moorings at Main Street Marina in Branson Landing for her sightseeing cruise on beautiful lake Taneycomo the morning of January 4 most of the passengers on board expected to see majestic Ozark vistas, bluffs that are “tens of thousands” of years old, Bald Eagles and more. Some might even have expected a mention of the Baldknobbers, a vigilante group featured in Harold Bell Wright’s famous novel, “The Shepherd of the Hills” and a mainstay of local history. What most didn’t expect was anything tying one one the most “famous gangsters “of all time, Al Capone, to the Branson area..

Capone was a “famous” Chicago gangster during the prohibition era in Chicago and was the head of the “Chicago Mob.” Although no one was every tired for it, it is suspected that he was responsible for the infamous 1929 “St. Valentine’s Day Massacre” in retaliation against Bugs Moran, the leader of a “rival gang” during which seven were brutally shot to death. Capone’s criminal career came to an end when he was convicted on federal charges of income tax evasion sentenced to federal prison in 1932, spending the majority of that sentence in Alcatraz, until his parole in 1939. The effects of his neurosyphilis, the repeal of prohibition in 1933 and his incarceration led to Capone’s retirement in Florida where he died of a heart attack at the age of 47.

The question comes to mind, “What does a Chicago gangster have to do with the Ozarks?” After gliding past just about the full length of Rockaway Beach’s scenic lake front, Captain Brian Ayers alerted the passengers to the ruins of a very old two story stone and wooden house at the foot of a bluff, immediately off the right side of the boat and on the opposite shore from Rockaway Beach. He pointed out that in its heyday Rockaway Beach was the premier vacation destination in southwest Missouri and that local legend has it that Al Capone, not only vacationed in Rockaway Beach, but stayed in that house while he was there because of its isolated location and water only approach.

There is no hard evidence that he did, but neither is there that he didn’t, but during the 20s he was known to disappear for periods of time. Could this house be one the places where he went? Who knows for sure, but one thing is certain, as Captain Ayers tells the story of Capone’s Ozarks  legend, it sure seems possible and one almost expects to see cigar smoke curling out the windows of the house.

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