The Michigan Hideout of 1930s Gangster John Dillinger
Many residents of our state speak about the numerous Michigan hideouts that were frequented by mob boss Al Capone...and we usually believe these stories. So why is it so hard for some to believe that another famous gangster could have a Michigan hideout? Namely, Public Enemy #1 of the early 1930s – John Dillinger.
For a long time I knew about a group of northern Michigan cabins where Dillinger was supposed to hideout...but I didn't know the exact location.
When I recently took a roadtrip to the Straits of Mackinac, I was fortunate enough to have one of the locals show me where the cabins were. Originally there were supposed to be three separate cabins for Dillinger and his entourage but one in particular still has quite a bit left to it...no roof, but three walls.
The cabin is secluded back in the woods on one of Michigan's islands; upon approaching, you can understand why he picked this spot. He didn't pick it just to simply hide out, but to recover from the plastic surgery he underwent in 1934 to change his face.
Any island locals who were around at that time are long gone, and refused to give information when alive – fear of the mob seeking retaliation on snitchers was part of the secrecy of the cabin locations. Plus, it's said that many islanders were involved in bootleg alcohol, and they didn't need law enforcement on the island looking for Dillinger – they might discover the local illegal bootleggers.
Current year-round islanders won't deny the story, but they won't give too much info on it, either.
Is this for real? Did Dillinger really hide out here or is this just fanciful assuming and hoping? Some disregard this as complete BS, others totally believe it. Some say these were boy scout cabins. Did Dillinger own cabins on the island? No. If anything, he knew whoever owned them or someone rented them for him. This debate will probably go on forever.
There are two films starring Humphrey Bogart where he portrays a Dillinger-type character, hiding out in secluded areas that could be based on Dillinger's time in northern Michigan: The Petrified Forest (1936) and High Sierra (1941) are films worth seeking out.
Not long after Dillinger left the island, he was shot and killed in an alleyway near Chicago's Biograph Theater on July 22, 1934. He had just turned 31 the month before.