The Maribel Caves Hotel

My fascination with Maribel began on my first ride from our home on English Lake, to Maribel. Pronounced, by the way, as MariBEL, with the accent on the last syllable. Grandma Dewane, grew up there. For anyone who’s been to Maribel, you understand the allure. The Maribel Caves Hotel looks like a castle, stories abound, my family history runs deep, caves elicit more wonder, Devil’s River adds to the romance and that creates magic. 

My memories of the river, that very first time are vivid. We lived on a lake, which is quite different than a river. Moving water, highly mineralized emits a fresh, clean scent that no lab can reproduce. The miniature waterfalls over layers of limestone caused me to think about the fairies and leprechauns that my grandmother said lived in the woods. Dappled sunlight through leaves, the greenest green of Wisconsin summer and an underlying scent of humus. That dirt and fallen leaves and water and stone, all combined to make a lifelong memory. 

I’d heard stories from relatives about Maribel and I wished that it was still the lovely resort of long gone days. In my mind, Maribel will always be a story, that of moonshine, and dark nights and ghosts and my ancestors’ lives. How I wished we owned it, rebuilt it, opened the bar, made it a functioning hotel again. And that the fairies and leprechauns were real. 

Over the years, I’ve seen it change – the first tornado, the windstorm and now, the ruins. I started collecting the bottles, which tell a story. I spent time with my grandmother, asking about the place, the people, the history. I wish I’d spent more. I love that so many people are interested in it, whether it’s the ghost stories, the Al Capone stories, family stories, or the beautiful photographs I see so frequently on social media. 

That’s my fascination with this piece of family history – fading like all things into time and place.  

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Monica
Monica
11 months ago

OMG I LOVE that you’re all into this. I have memories of my teenage years rt there. Live music, beautiful scenery and great friends celebrating love and life!! “Best hat” competitions and more.
Thx for doing this!!

Sherry Dewane
Admin
11 months ago
Reply to  Monica

Hi Monica – I am so happy you like the site. I love that you spent time there “celebrating love and life!!” I always felt that way when I visited. What were Best Hat competitions? I am looking for any and all stories about Maribel from all time periods.

Happy Reading!!

Sherry

Monica
Monica
11 months ago

Hi Monica – I somehow lost your other comment. Please resend so that I can fully respond. I am so happy you enjoyed the post and the site.

Best, Sherry

Leah
Leah
11 months ago

What was your Grandma Dewane’s first name? Mine was Val. She had 16 children and I have over 60 first cousins I believe. Is it possible we are cousins?

Sherry Dewane
Admin
11 months ago
Reply to  Leah

Hi Leah – yes we are related! My grandmother, was indeed, Val. She was an amazing person. Who are your parents? Yes, we have an extraordinary number of first cousins. There is a family tree out there on Tribal Pages that has good information about our family. It is called Roots and Branches. I am not the administrator, but if you go to that site and email the administrator, she will respond and you can see the family.

Thank you for reading and writing.

Best, Sherry

Harlan
Harlan
11 months ago

Thanks for your memories!

Sherry Dewane
Admin
11 months ago
Reply to  Harlan

Hi Harlan – thank you for reading and commenting. I am so happy you enjoyed it! More to come.

Best, Sherry

Kevin
Kevin
11 months ago

Great story, thanks. I grew up in Maribel and visited the caves quite often.

Sherry Dewane
Admin
11 months ago
Reply to  Kevin

Hi Kevin – thank you for reading and commenting. What years did you visit the caves? Find any of the fairies and leprechauns that my grandmother said lived there? (Smile)

Best, Sherry

Denise
Denise
11 months ago

Very cool! I drive past it all the time. Was always curious about it. I had never seen a picture of the whole building. Thanks for the information. Any more info you find, would love to hear about it.

Sherry Dewane
Admin
11 months ago
Reply to  Denise

Hi Denise – thank you for writing and commenting. I will continue to post about Maribel as I collect information and work on my book. I will do a post with an old postcard in the next few days. It has a very rich history, tied to the settlement of the area and some interesting people with connections to the building and grounds.

Off to research more….

Best, Sherry

Ellen
Ellen
11 months ago

Sherry, thank you so much for this article. My name is Ellen Christel, nee Wojta. My Mom was Evelyn Nachtwey, whose brother Norman was married to Myrtle Dewane. My Grandmother was Josephine Steinbrecher Nachtwey. I too heard many stories from her and her sisters Frances Steinbrecher and Matilda ( Aunt Til) can’t recall her married name, Lew ? ) right now. My Dad’s sister Mary Wojta was married to Melvin (Doc) Dewane. Small world ! Jerry and I lived in Manitowoc for most of our lives and now live on Meta Lake near Eagle River, Wi for the past 20 years.
Wondering who your Dad was and how related to the above. Thanks and God Bless !

Sherry Dewane
Admin
11 months ago
Reply to  Ellen

Hi Ellen, and thank you for writing! I was quickly overwhelmed with the response I received on my post. I love Maribel, that part of the world and the history. My dad is Gene Dewane, his father was Ed Dewane and his grandfather was Patrick Dewane. My grandmother, Valeria Dewane was a Wegner, who married into the Steinbrecher family. And, that’s my simple connection to Maribel. I would love to hear any stories you or your family have about Maribel. I am working on a book and I want to document this amazing place and the wonderful people who built it and made it magical.

I am so happy that you find it as interesting as I do.

Please be in touch. Best, Sherry

Cindy
Cindy
11 months ago

We also have always had a fascination for this building. Since my significant other spent alot of time there in the 70’s we have collected many photos and bottles etc. We will always be in love with this place!

Sherry Dewane
Admin
11 months ago
Reply to  Cindy

Hi Cindy – thanks so much for writing! And hello to a fellow Maribel romantic. I would love to see your collection. I am trying to put together as much as I can for a book. I am planning a small coffee table book with lots of pictures to accompany the stories. Was it a hotel in the 70’s or just a bar and restaurant? What was it like?

Best, Sherry

Courtney
Courtney
11 months ago

Could you possibly please tell us some of the stories that have been handed down to you? Weather it’s Capone, family, ghost, factual or not, the fairies & leprechauns would love a little reading.
I’ve wanted to take my grandkids out there for a hike/adventure as point beach is becoming a bit stale for them year after year. I just don’t k ow if we are allowed yet & where to actually pull in & park. Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you

Sherry Dewane
Admin
11 months ago
Reply to  Courtney

Hi Courtney – I am working on a book about Maribel. I have Val Dewane’s biography, which I wrote when I was in college, for a class. She was amazing and told me all sorts of stories. I have an autobiography her mother wrote and I have some other written stories. Al Capone – there are people who say that was all nonsense and neither he nor any of his men were there. Others say that he indeed was at the hotel. Given the times, proximity to Chicago, and probably lots of moonshine production, I would not be surprised. I am looking for diaries from the Maribel area, anything. Fairies and leprechauns come from the Dewane side of the family. Val married Ed Dewane, who was Irish. And we all know that the Irish love a good story of any kind whatsoever, involving leprechauns or gangsters. I haven’t been there in a few years, so I don’t know where to park, but I know there is a park there. Have fun with your grandchildren!! And thank you for reading! Sherry

Joy
Joy
11 months ago

I lived at the Caves, my Grandfather bought it at a Sheriff auction and ran it for 40 some years until my Mom bought it. It has wonderful memories for me and my family. Too bad there wasn’t some reinforcement in the shell of the building when the storm went through, I believe it would still be standing proud.

What Dewane family do you come from?

Sherry Dewane
Admin
11 months ago
Reply to  Joy

Hi Joy – I would love to be in touch with you and hear your stories. What was your grandfather’s name? My grandmother was Val Dewane (Wegner). My email address is sherry.dewane@sbcglobal.net. I hope your memories of it are as wonderful as mine – although I am sure you have many, many more than I do.

Best, Sherry

Joan
11 months ago

Beautiful writing about a beautiful place.
I have many memories about visits there.
It is magical.
I saw it last summer .
Mom

Jennifer Latch
Jennifer Latch
11 months ago

This is such a nice piece of history I didn’t even know about Wisconsin! Makes me want to travel back soon.

Jennifer Latch
Jennifer Latch
11 months ago

It is so nice to see you connecting with extended family!

Jen
Jen
10 months ago

Hey there! Love the post!

Joan dewane
10 months ago

Love hearing the mystery of the hotel.

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[…] p.s. Wondering why I am writing about Maribel? See my first post. […]

Mike Sobush
9 months ago

Hi Sherry,
I am the head volunteer at Cherney Maribel Caves County Park, we just had a video of the park by the Coolest Coast, it is on our website http://www.maribelcaves.com, take a look at it. I am sure that you will like it, I also did one on the hotel that should be coming out before the end of the year.
I have several pictures of the hotel, and we got permission to walk around the building to do the video. Keep an eye out for it on our website.
mike