By Mike Sparks
My wife and I recently traveled to Chattanooga along I-24. I recall as a young boy my late mother putting me on a Greyhound bus and visitng my sister Cindy who lived in Lafayette, Georgia. Back then I-24 was only completed to Old Hickory Blvd in Antioch—south of Nashville.
Al Capone, the infamous American gangster, is known for his exploits in organized crime during the Prohibition era. In scrape as a youth at the Harvard Inn, a young hoodlum named Frank Galluccio slashed Capone with a knife or razor across his left cheek after Capone commented about Galluccio’s sister—where he earned the nickname “Scarface.”
While he’s primarily associated with the city of Chicago, there are records of him traveling to other parts of the country as well. One such journey took him through the state of Tennessee, where he stopped visted Tennessee cities including Murfreesboro and Monteagle. Stories are told that known gangsters like Al Capone often stopped and ate in Murfreesboro.
Related: Capone Visits The Mabee House in Monteagle
In 1928, Al Capone embarked on a trip down Highway 41, which stretches from Michigan to Florida. His ultimate destination was Miami, where he owned a mansion and often vacationed there. Our state that was notorious for its illegal alcohol trade during the Prohibition era.
Capone’s first stop was in Nashville, where he reportedly met with local bootleggers to discuss the smuggling of alcohol. He then continued south on Highway 41, eventually arriving in Murfreesboro—the center of the state.
Capone’s visit to Murfreesboro is documented in local newspaper archives. According to reports, he arrived in town with a small entourage and stayed in Murfreesboro.
Capone’s visit to Murfreesboro caused quite a stir among the locals, who were both fascinated and frightened by the notorious gangster. Some accounts suggest that he received a warm welcome from certain segments of the community, who were sympathetic to his illegal activities. However, others were outraged by his presence in their town, viewing him as a symbol of corruption and lawlessness.
After spending a night in Murfreesboro, Capone continued his journey south on Highway 41. He made another stop in Monteagle, a small town located in the Cumberland Plateau region of Tennessee. Here, he stayed at the famous Monteagle Inn, which was known for its luxurious accommodations and stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
During his stay in Monteagle, Capone reportedly held a meeting with other members of the criminal underworld. It’s unclear what was discussed at this meeting, but it’s likely that it involved the illegal alcohol trade or other criminal activities.
Capone’s journey through Tennessee was just one small part of his larger-than-life story. While his visit to Murfreesboro and Monteagle may have caused a stir at the time, it’s unlikely that many people in these towns thought much about it in the years that followed. Nevertheless, the fact that one of America’s most notorious criminals passed through their communities is a piece of local history that’s still remembered today.
Overall, Capone’s travels down Highway 41 are a fascinating example of the criminal underworld that existed during the Prohibition era. While we may never know all the details of what happened during his journey through Tennessee and beyond, the fact that we can still piece together some of the story is a testament to the enduring power of history and the human fascination with larger-than-life figures.
Gangster Al Capone was escorted through Union Station in Nashville on his way to imprisonment in Alcatraz.
During his prime, he was the head of the Chicago Outfit and was responsible for numerous illegal activities, including bootlegging, gambling, and prostitution. However, in the last few years of his life, Capone’s criminal empire began to crumble due to his declining health and increased scrutiny from law enforcement.
In 1931, Capone was finally convicted of tax evasion and sentenced to eleven years in federal prison. He was initially sent to the Atlanta Penitentiary but was later transferred to Alcatraz Island, a high-security prison in San Francisco Bay. While in prison, Capone’s health began to deteriorate, and he was eventually diagnosed with syphilis. He also suffered from dementia and was often delusional, sometimes even talking to himself and imagining that he was still the head of his criminal organization.
Due to his failing health, Capone was released from prison on November 16, 1939, after serving seven years of his sentence. However, his health had deteriorated so much that he could no longer run his criminal empire effectively. He spent the last years of his life in seclusion, mostly at his mansion in Palm Island, Florida.
Capone died on January 25, 1947, in his Palm Island Mansion from complications of syphilis. Despite Capone’s notoriety, his funeral was a low-key affair, attended only by close family members and a few friends.