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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Spokane: City reckons with tide of unwanted whiskey

The city’s stockpile of confiscated booze was stretching storage limits. (Spokesman-Review archives)
The city’s stockpile of confiscated booze was stretching storage limits. (Spokesman-Review archives)

What was the city going to do with thousands of gallons of confiscated whiskey?

This was one of the problems raised by statewide prohibition, and the answer was: Pour it down the sewer.

That’s what the city decided to do after determining that the war department had no use for it for “medical purposes.” It was destined to go down the drain at the end of the week.

In the meantime, the city had to make sure that no one was tempted to sneak off with a few bottles. This was an issue on everyone’s mind, after the dismissal of one Spokane police officer who was accused of appropriating liquor taken in a bootlegging raid.

The police department’s main storage room was piled floor to ceiling with confiscated booze, valued at more than $50,000. The city’s public safety commissioner assured the public that the key to the storage room was carried by the police chief, and no one else.

“It has never been in other hands,” said the commissioner. “…We do not want any booze nibbling or tampering at the City Hall, and I believe every precaution is taken to prevent it.”

He also noted that much of the booze was stored in separate parcels, such as suitcases and trunks, and that each parcel was locked with another key, which was labeled and locked in the chief’s office so that “no one else can tamper with this room without the chief knowing it.”

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