It’s the 58th anniversary of the burning of the Piping Rock. On the morning of August 17, 1954, Piping Rock Casino was burned in Saratoga Springs’ most scandalous arson. In the 58 years since, no one has ever solved who burned it—although my father said it was torched by an arsonist known only as Harry the Torch.
No one has ever answered why it was burned. But it must have been torched for a reason. Otherwise, why burn a casino that had been seized by the feds for back taxes, had not been open for business for 3 years, had been sold at auction a year before it burned and had not been insured by the new owner? Why was Piping Rock Casino reportedly empty, yet was broken into and robbed of gaming tables and other items shortly before it was torched?
We have at least four suspects: the three mafia members who “owned” Piping Rock, Meyer Lansky, Frank Costello and Joe Adonis—and the fourth, Lansky’s dear friend, Saratoga Springs attorney James A. Leary, head of Saratoga’s Republican machine, owner of MacFinn’s Drugstore, and one of the slickest criminals ever to avoid prosecution by New York State or the United States. I will be adding names to this list.
What were they trying to cover up? What was in the “empty” casino that that someone wanted hidden? Is there any evidence beneath the housing development on Piping Rock Circle now standing over the Piping Rock Casino’s remains at the corner of Union Ave. and Gilbert Rd. in Saratoga?
Because it’s Saratoga Springs, we probably will never know. Another successful Saratoga scandal. So, happy 58th anniversary, Piping Rock!
And, as Harry the Torch might have said, “Keep the Home Fires Burning!”