Iowa Small Towns May 18, 2023
by Kim Magaraci Back In The Day, This Quiet Iowa Town Was A Mafia Mecca
Although there are plenty of family-friendly
things to do in Sioux City, Iowa today, the town has a colorful – and somewhat dark – history that many people don’t know about. When Iowa passed an amendment to its constitution banning the manufacture, sale, and consumption of alcohol, the town of Sioux City rejected the order. Far away from the state capital and a town where liquor had always flowed freely, the leaders and business owners of the industrial town could not have cared less about the orders from Des Moines. The town, which had already gained the nickname “Little Chicago,” was quickly tangled up in a bit of a mafia mess.
At first, the nickname was due to the meatpacking industry in town, but it quickly took on more meaning.
The town was always known for its tendency to drink whiskey by the barrel, and when an amendment to Iowa's Constitution was passed in 1882 prohibiting the sale of alcohol, Sioux City's saloons rejected it. A red light district known as "The Sudan" formed in the neighborhoods surrounding Lower Fourth Street.
Sioux City, Iowa continued to serve alcohol freely, despite a statewide ban.
There was little effort to hide the illegal saloons, and despite protests from people within the community (including preachers and clergy), Sioux City quickly gained a reputation as a drinking and gambling den. Soon, it was known as "Little Chicago" not just for its industry, but due to the fact that corruption seeped into everyday life.
The police were constantly trying to stay ahead of the bootleggers that had ties to the midwest mafia, and they did make several large busts.
However, nothing could stop the momentum the city had gained, and nationwide, newspapers questioned whether the Devil or God ruled in this once sleepy Iowa town. The Chicago House hotel on Lower Fourth was a place where city gangsters came to get away from the city - and rumor has it that Al Capone visited
Sioux City, IA
from time to time.
In 1885, the Reverend George Haddock became the minister of the First Methodist Episcopal Church. He preached vehemently against the consumption of alcohol.
He had a habit of investigating saloons that were said to be serving liqour, and this cost him his life. In 1886, Haddock set out to check on a speakeasy. On his way home, he was approached by two men. One grabbed him, and the other shot. He died at the intersection of 4th and Water Streets.
Both of the suspects faced trial - one was acquitted, and the other had his four-year-long sentence suspended by the governor after just three months.
Meanwhile, just across the river in Dakota City, another mafia war was unfolding.
Iowa Beef Processors had begun to revolutionize the meatpacking industry that ruled the region. They created an efficient assembly line process, eliminated the need for union-led stockyards, and hired a non-unionized workforce.
Then, they tried to sell their meat to the largest market in the country: New York City. Not only were protests and strikes (that sometimes turned violent) then a daily part of life outside the plant, but New York politicians began to offer concessions. They would help end the strikes and allow IBP meat into the city for a "commission" of five cents for every ten pounds of meat sold in their market. Obviously, these commissions were bribes paid directly to the union-connected Mafia. However, IBP needed the New York market - and thus had to pay millions of dollars indirectly to the New York mafia to keep their business going.
From prohibition to meatpacking, the mafia had a hold on
Sioux City, Iowa.
Truly, this story of mafia
history in Iowa
is one of the most fascinating in the state.
To discover some of the best
things to do in Sioux City, Iowa, check out this YouTube video by UltamodernHome:
Did you know about the mafia
history in Iowa? How about the Al Capone Sioux City rumors? What are your favorite things to do in Sioux City, Iowa now that it isn’t a mafia mecca? Let us know in the comments!
With a history like this, it’s no wonder that two
Sioux City, IA restaurants made our list of 11 restaurants that serve the best bloody mary in Iowa!
OnlyInYourState may earn compensation through affiliate links in this article.
Address: Sioux City, IA, USA
The OIYS Visitor Center
Things To Do In Sioux City Iowa & Related Info
May 23, 2023
What are the best things to do in Sioux City, Iowa?
Some of the best
things to do in Sioux City, Iowa are:
I just love old-school drive-thru restaurants like Tastee Inn and Out. Iowa's very first drive-thru, this classic joint will whisk you back to the 1950s with its loose meat sandwiches, chili, and more.
Located on the Iowa-South Dakota border, Stone State Park is a hilly oasis with miles of scenic hiking trails. You definitely won't feel like you're in the Hawkeye State anymore!
Take a step back in time when you visit this old-fashioned candy shop and museum. Marvel at antique candy-making equipment, then pick up some delicious goodies such as gourmet truffles and candy bars.
What are the most charming small towns in Iowa?
most charming small towns in Iowa include:
Sioux Center is ideal for those in search of some peace and quiet. This relaxed college town is steeped in Dutch heritage and features incredible restaurants, unique architecture, beautiful parks, and more.
A nature lover's dream, Shenandoah is home to fewer than 5,000 people - yet it's packed to the brim with outdoor activities. There are a staggering 15 town parks within Shenandoah's city limits!
With its plethora of historic buildings, a Broadway-style theatre tucked away in an old barn, and a quaint town square brimming with shops and restaurants, Jefferson will take you back to simpler times.