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Opinion >  Column

100 years ago in the Inland Northwest: The latest moonshine raid netted a strange surprise ingredient

 (S-R archives)
(S-R archives)

A raid on a Mica Peak moonshine still produced two arrests – and one big surprise.

A dead frog was floating in one quart of moonshine.

“They put him in there to give the ‘likker’ more of a kick,” a federal Prohibition agent said, as he held up the glass jar. “But the kick in the moonshine evidently was too much for the kick of the frog. Or maybe he was like Mark Twain’s ‘Jumping Frog,’ and had too much in his stomach.”

Officers seized two complete stills and more than 11 gallons of finished product. The officers had been working on a tip that someone had been selling moonshine to tribal members in the vicinity. The federal Prohibition agents raided the operation, along with officers from the Spokane dry squad and the Coeur d’Alene Reservation.

They found what they called a “true Kentucky style” operation concealed in a dugout along the bank of California Creek, near the base of Mica Peak. The officers found it by following a pipe leading from a spring. They arrested the two men in the dugout, and both were now in the county jail.

In addition to the finished moonshine, officers found more than 80 gallons of mash.

Also from the booze beat: The cover story in The Spokesman-Review’s Sunday magazine was titled: “Prohibition’s Iron Grip is Surely Strangling the Booze Smuggler.”

The story explained how Canadian liquor had been flooding the Spokane region – and how local Prohibition officers were determined to stop it. Yet they had to maintain vigilance over at least 10 different land routes into Eastern Washington alone, not to mention the even more porous sea routes into Western Washington.

The headline made it sound as though the Prohibition officers were winning this battle. But the story made it clear that it was difficult, if not impossible, to stifle the legions of smugglers who were making big money bringing liquor into the state.

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