Visitors to the Indiana Welcome Center will be able to get a free, up-close look at history on Saturday as part of Dillinger Day.
In addition to being able to enter John Dillinger Museum for free, visitors will be able to see the Tommy guns used during John Dillinger’s bank robbery in East Chicago and watch the Travel Channel’s “Mysteries at the Museum” clip that featured the infamous wooden gun Dillinger used during his escape from the Lake County Jail. The wooden gun is housed inside the museum.
Dillinger Day was scheduled to coincide with the anniversary of Dillinger’s escape from the jail, which occurred on March 3, 1934.
Sheriff’s deputies from both Lake County Sheriff’s Department and Porter County Sheriff’s Department will be on hand with the Tommy guns, which have only been displayed at the museum one other time, said Nicki Mackowski, director of public relations for the South Shore CVA.
“The sheriffs will show the guns but also talk about careers in law enforcement,” she said.
The seven-minute Mysteries at the Museum clip will show every half hour inside the In-Vision Theatre inside the visitor’s center. The clip, which first aired on the Travel Channel in November 2012, has never been shown at the museum before.
“The clip talks about the wooden gun, the jail break and the sheriff,” she said.
Mackowski credits recent Dillinger movies with helping perpetuate the ganster-era phenomenon.
The 1930s was a pivotal era in crime, because Dillinger and his gang spawned the start of the FBI and took crime to a different level. They were also drawn to the Depression-era tale of escaping from jail with a wooden gun and going on a crime spree that spanned numerous states.
“He was a criminal before his time,” she said.
Dillinger Day offers guests who will be returning to the museum a chance to talk with people and get answers from the experts. It also gives people who have never visited the museum a chance to do so for free and to learn a little bit about his history with the area.
“The museum promotes the idea that crime doesn’t pay, but the gangster era fascinates people,” she said. “People can get up close and personal to these artifacts that were used almost 70 years ago.”
FYI: Dillinger Day will be at Indiana Welcome Center from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free. For more information visit www.southshorecva.com.