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100 years ago in Spokane: Montana largely ignored prohibition, except for college town of Missoula

 (Spokesman Review Archives)

The Spokane Daily Chronicle ran another bootlegging exposé by reporter Mark A. Shields, this one about conditions in Butte.

“Prohibition has not touched Butte,” reported Shields. The supply of booze, he said, “appears to be inexhaustible.”

Shields said that he and a companion walked into a Butte pool hall and the bartender asked, “What’ll you have?”

“I chose Scotch,” wrote Shields. “Up came the left hand and a pint bottle. My companion called for bourbon and up came the right hand.”

Shields said that in pre-Prohibition days, Butte was noted for its bars.

“None of them have quit business,” he wrote. “All masquerade under the guise of soft drink parlors, and some are honest in their advertising methods.”

He said that public sentiment in Montana is solidly against Prohibition, “although strangely enough, the state at large insists on Missoula remaining ‘dry’ because the state university is located there, and Missoula, sensing its responsibility, is the virgin city, if such a thing is possible in Montana.”

Shields uncovered some odd facts in his story, including a bartender’s claim that the Irish in Butte “drink nothing but bourbon and want nothing to do with Scotch.”

Also on this day


1881: Levi P. Morton, U.S. ambassador to France, drives the first rivet into the Statue of Liberty.

1973: John Lennon sues the U.S. government to admit the FBI is tapping his phone; they deny doing so.

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