The Time South Dakota Tried to Ban Beer – It Seemed Like a Good Idea
File this under, "Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time." Here's how it went down in South Dakota.
It was over a century 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.
"No person shall on or after the date when the eighteenth amendment to the Constitution of the United States goes into effect, manufacture, sell, barter, transport, import, export, deliver, furnish or possess any intoxicating liquor except as authorized in this Act, and all the provisions of this Act shall be liberally construed to the end that the use of intoxicating liquor as a beverage may be prevented." - National Prohibition Act (Volstead Act)
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.
The More Things Change The More They Stay The Same
Overall, South Dakota was a sober state for 18 years. Or was it?
illegal homemade stills popped up across the state. Moonshine operations were doing a 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 National Prohibition Act for nearly a year later.
Deadwood, South Dakota 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 is 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!
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