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Opinion >  Column

100 years ago in Spokane: Ferry County was considered a ‘wild’ and ‘wet’ county not safe for travelers

 (Spokane Daily Chronicle archives)
(Spokane Daily Chronicle archives)

The Spokane Daily Chronicle explained exactly how bootleggers brazenly smuggled huge amounts of liquor across the Canadian border.

Canadian liquor export houses were located at Grand Forks and nearby Greenwood. Spokane-based smugglers would pick up cases of booze there, and then “run around the American customs officers at Midway, Laurier and Danville.” They used small rural roads left “unguarded.”

Then they went through Republic, straight down the San Poil River valley in Ferry County. The bootleggers encountered zero problems there.

“Ferry County is ‘wet,’” the Chronicle said. “… Because of public sentiment in the county, liquor runners and the moonshiners are in their element.”

A Republic businessman said “there is no law in Ferry County.” Spies, in sympathy with the liquor runners, kept an eye on the few Prohibition officers who dared to set foot in Republic and Keller, and had ways of letting the bootleggers know of their whereabouts.

“Ferry County is the last frontier and it is going to remain wild,” local residents boasted.

“The close watch kept on visitors is a dangerous thing for the innocent tourist who wants good fishing,” the Chronicle said. “… Every stranger is held to be a revenue or enforcement officer until his identity is established.”

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