Ramsey County History – Spring 2006: “St. Paul Underground: Stahlmann’s Cellars: The Cave under the Castle”

Greg A. Brick

St. Paul Underground: Stahlmann’s Cellars: The Cave under the Castle
Author: Greg A. Brick

Bavarian-born Christopher Stahlmann opened his brewery in St. Paul in 1855 on Fort and Oneida streets in the West Seventh area. By the late 1870s, it was the largest brewery in the state. Its lagering caves were carved into the sandstone twenty to thirty feet below the surface. In time, icehouses were replaced with mechanical refrigeration that could be scientifically controlled. After Stahlmann died, the brewery went bankrupt and Jacob Schmidt bought it in 1900. When he died a decade later, Adolf and Otto Bremer took over and built Schmidt’s into one of the leading regional beer producers. The company made it through Prohibition by selling soft drinks and near beer. In the late 1930s, Schmidt’s was thought to be the seventh largest brewery in the country.

The second half of the article describes a trip through the caverns by the author and caving friends in November 1999. It graphically describes the “sewer slime,” the smells of the brewery, crawling through pipes, and finding evidence of earlier human visitors who had passed through. Brick and others visited these caves again after the brewery had closed to see if that changed things. This time, the cave was much drier and cooler and in the absence of brewery waste. Cave life had disappeared.
PDF of Brick article