Rhode Island's Colorful Prohibition Past

on 28/11/10 at 8:46 pm

Booze News

It was called the Noble Experiment by those who believed in it, the Great Illusion by the others. Prohibition was something Rhode Island lived with and largely ignored during the Twenties. Anyone wanting a nip did not go thirsty. Enforcement was, by and large, laughable and the law led to a sickening amount of corruption because so many of the enforcers fell for the fast buck.

Hefty sums of money rode on the traffic in booze, whether it was the real thing from Rum Row offshore or just plain alky out of the stills in Central Falls and Woonsocket. Violence was commonplace and hijacking an accepted business risk. On those dark and lonely lanes down to the drops — the places where booze “right off the boat” was landed — gunfire shattered the nights as often as not.

In Central Falls, there was an enclave called “Moonshine Valley” where the stills, fed by fermenting mash, filled barrels and jugs with alcohol which, artfully colored, and in the back of spurious labels, passed for real booze. In North Providence, the Law knocked off an ice house containing 10,000 gallons of beer; public reaction was that it was all quite correct because beer should be kept on ice.

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