History of Barker Lake Lodge Joe Saltis, Chicago Beer Baron and Gangster with Al Capone
This historic resort was designed and built in 1929 as a Wisconsin getaway Prohibition gangster retreat for Beer Baron “Gentleman” Joe Saltis, (pictured right), a Joliet saloon keeper and bootlegger, referred to as “Polack Joe.” Saltis spent an estimated $100,000 into building this rustic two-story cedar log lodge, cabins and nine-hole golf course. Located Near Al Capone’s Hideout.
Joe was credited with establishing the first Peace Agreement between all the Rival Gangs that included Al Capone.
What may have been a contributing factor is Joe Saltis’s partner Frank McErlane considered Chicago’s toughest thug at the time was responsible for using the first Thompson SubMachine gun to settle a dispute in 1925. Numerous brass cartridge shells have been discovered on the property while planting over 60 trees, photos are on display in the New York Times Article Below.
In the Spring of 2011, while expanding an entry to one log cabin 15 bullets were divinely discovered lodged inside the interior wall. Pulitzer Prize Winning Photographer Gary Porter published rare prohibition relics in the Wisconsin State Journal article linked below.
In 1930 “Polack Joe” retired to this retreat on the Barker Lake shoreline and the colorful stories about him and his guests still circulate around the Winter, Wisconsin area.
A film in 1960 by Jack Webb former star of Dragnet TV Series highlights Gangster Frank McErlane run in with Wisconsin’s DNR in Movie: Open Season viewable at the Lodge.
Learn more about the history of Joseph Saltis.
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