That Time When South Dakota Went Sober
File this under, "Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time." Here's how it went down in South Dakota.
It was nearly 101 years ago that the National Prohibition Act was passed in this nation. The year was 1920. Although South Dakota thought it would be a good idea to enact prohibition a few years earlier on March 20, 1918. The images are enough to make a grown man cry. The wine was flooding down the streets and fine whiskeys were being poured down the drains.
Overall, South Dakota was a sober state for 18 years. Or was it?
Homemade stills were popping up illegally across the state. Moonshine operations were doing brisk underground business. And bootleggers had to figure out how to outrun the law.
I reckon many folks from Sioux Falls crossed the border to Iowa or Minnesota where they didn't observe the act for nearly a year later.
Deadwood was no exception. They really just ignored the law. According to Mary Kopco, director of Deadwood's Adams Museum, no one really took notice. Deadwood had over 30 saloons with backrooms that would serve you alcohol. This according to the Dakota Digest of South Dakota Public Broadcasting.
If you really want a deep dive into prohibition in South Dakota I would highly recommend the book, Prohibition in South Dakota: Astride the White Mule by Chuck Cecil. In it the author writes about the murder of prohibition officers near Redfield and a secret moonshine outfit buried under Lon Vaught's chicken house! It's available on Amazon or checks your local book store.
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