This picture is believed to be Al Capone and an unidentified friend at Happy Hollow in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
(Photo and info. courtesy of the Garland County Historical Society)
did they come here? Down through the years Hot Springs has been
visited by some of the most famous people in American history- Bat
Masterson, Cy Young, Carrie Nation, John F. Kennedy, Billy Sunday,
President Herbert Hoover, Helen Keller, Babe Ruth, Jack Dempsey and
even Frank and Jesse James.
Sam Houston came to Hot Springs for therapy in the thermal hot springs. He had a skin disease on his head. Many of the famous baseball teams and players came to Hot Springs for their spring training. Before he became a famous preacher, the athlete Billy Sunday came here for spring training with the Chicago White Stockings (now the Chicago Cubs) as early as 1886. Connie Mack came down with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1896.
Why did they come? The growth of the city, whose main purpose would to be provide attractive and desirable services for visitors.... caused visitors to come from all across the nation in search of health and recreation.
Although the thermal baths were a real plus for baseball players seeking therapy for their aching muscles, Hot Springs had a major industry of recreation that attracted a variety of characters - casino gambling.
While gambling in Hot Springs, Wyatt Earp got drunk and quite upset over his gambling losses, and was de-armed and escorted to the city limits. Legend states that Harry Truman came to Hot Springs and played poker for small stakes.
Our most famous visitor down through the ages.... must have been Al Capone. During the prohibition era, Capone came from Chicago to strike deals with bootleggers in Hot Springs to stock his clubs in Chicago with alcohol. Not only is Hot Springs a remote town located in the middle of the Ouachita mountains, but the pine trees provide "cover" for the moonshine stills year round. Capone would ship his bootleg liquor in tanker railroad cars, and for protection, he had the words "Mountain Valley Water" painted on the side of the railcars!
In Chicago, Detroit, New York - when the heat was on because of a robbery or murder, the overlords knew where to come to relax in safety. Hot Springs was a sanctuary from prosecution and enemies. Gangsters could enjoy the entertainment of gambling, and be pampered with the hot mineral baths and massages.
At one time, Capone and his entourage occupied the 4th floor of the Arlington Hotel. (Legend has it that Capone always stayed in room 442, and that the Arlington Hotel has locked that room up and will not rent it to anyone to this day) Capone's arch enemy Bugs Moran and his gang were checked in at the Majestic Hotel, just one block away. There was no conflict, and no violence - both gangsters were on vacation!
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