A ship that sits at the bottom of Lake Charlevoix was once used as a speakeasy during the days of Prohibition...there is also a claim that Al Capone had a hand in it from 1929 to 1931. I don't understand how Capone could have been in so many places in Michigan.....but this actually sounds reasonable.

The Keuka was an old lumber barge that was purchased by the president of Wolverine Steamship Company, 'Captain' James Gallagher. It was his idea to turn this 1889 barge into a floating speakeasy to make a few bucks from an alcohol-craving public.

Touted as a “floating dance hall” so it wouldn't arouse suspicion, it opened on New Year's Eve, 1929. An orchestra was on hand for the music and patrons forked over a buck and a half to get in. Aside from music and dancing, it was advertised as a roller skating rink, which it did have, in case the feds decided to show up.

99.1 WFMK logo
Get our free mobile app

The Keuka also had a deck full of slot machines and plenty of gaming tables.

From 1929 to 1931, supposedly Capone and his men were supplying the Keuka with booze with one of the gang members “helping” the owner run the casino. It is probable that Capone was somehow involved, as he had a house near Charlevoix and some docked ships along the shores of Lake Michigan down to Chicago.

The Keuka mysteriously sank to the bottom of the lake on August 14, 1932. What caused it to sink? Was it the local Temperance Union? Extreme leakage? Or was it intentionally sank by the owner(s) who were afraid a federal agent bust was imminent?

One year later Prohibition came to an end....almost 100 years later, and the Keuka still sits at the bottom of Lake Charlevoix. The gallery below shows you this infamous floating speakeasy as it sits on the lake floor. There are aslo a few photos showing what it looked like before sinking.

1930s Floating Speakeasy at the Bottom of Lake Charlevoix


Five Ghost Ships of the Great Lakes

Old Michigan Shipwrecks, Early 1900s

The Ship Made of Bricks


More From 99.1 WFMK