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What Was Inside This Alabama Cave In 1937 May Surprise You

In Alabama, the most exciting news of 1937 was the opening of Bangor Café Club–the only underground nightclub in America. This club was only open for a year and a half, but in that short time, it became one of the most glamorous and controversial places in the South. The fact it was operated during Prohibition is what made it so controversial.

Bangor Cave is located in Blount County. Prior to it becoming a nightclub, this cave was a popular tourist destination for locals and patrons of the mineral springs at the Blount Springs resort. In 1915, the Blount Springs resort burned down and the cave was suddenly forgotten.

During the mid-1930s, the construction of a nightclub took place. With the use of dynamite, a new entrance was blasted open. A bar and bandstand was carved from the stone. The first floor was leveled with the addition of concrete and linoleum, and the second floor eventually became a lounge for female guests. One of the rooms featured slot machines, craps tables, card tables and roulette wheels.

Saturday, June 5, 1937 was Bangor Café Club’s opening day. Guests from all over Alabama arrived by train. As soon as the nightclub opened, raids and legal proceedings over the cave’s operation began. Governor Bibb Graves ordered the local sheriff to close the club.

Bangor Café Club eventually had an official reopening day without liquor or gambling. This obviously didn’t last long considering the newly-appointed sheriff and eight Alabama State Troopers arrived at the club while approximately 2,000 guests were enjoying the roulette wheels, slot machines and liquor.

In January 1939, Bangor Café Club shut its doors permanently. Shortly after that, on the morning of May 8, 1939, several people noticed black smoke coming from the cave. It was totally engulfed in flames. Many believe lawmen set it on fire so it would never reopen.

Sadly, in recent years, Bangor Cave has been the victim of vandalism. Its walls are covered with graffiti and the inside is littered with trash. The bar and bandstand are both still visible, but other parts of this historic cave continue to disappear as years go by.

In recent years, Bangor Cave was purchased by an individual who has been working extremely hard to restore it. Let’s hope this individual brings it back to the beautiful cave it once was. In the meantime, don’t forget this cave is on private property and not open to the public. Hopefully once the cave is fully restored, the new owner will allow visitors to check it out.

 

Jennifer
Jennifer is the Alabama staff writer for Only In Your State.