Bootlegging Buffoonery

1931 Packard 833 photographed in Montreal, Que...
1931 Packard 833: it’d be a shame to
shoot up this beauty.

Information for this article was found in: Mooney, Elizabeth C. “War on Rum Road.” Adirondack Life. November 1980.

Buffoonery in Rumrunning? Yes, some of the things people did in the name of booze was quite funny. And there were no shortages of risk takers seeing as $240 in Canadian hootch netted the running $700 in NYC. A quite handsome Canadian exchange!

Getting to Canada, in those days, was quite easy…head to a neighbor’s farm and drive over the back pasture. Voila. Load up your Packard and head on down to the Big Apple.

But what if a revenuer or Malone’s Black Horse caught on to you?

  1. through the lever on the dashboard and lay down a smoke-screen. OR
  2. press the air compressor throttle and throw up dust. OR
  3. lay down an oil slick. OR
  4. aim for the prohi (fed) OR
if all else failed, go low tech–toss out the nails and broken glass you stored on the passenger seat. That would flatten any tire.
Fortunately for the bootleggers–the troopers didn’t have cars in the early years. Your nemesis road a horse and Troop B of the NY State Police was known as the Black Horse Troop. They patrolled the border in pairs. The Captain of these troopers only had a general idea where their officers were. The bootleggers, via their underground network, knew to a man, where they hid.
Synonyms for the Black Horse Troop:
    • dressed up Boy Scouts
Map showing Rouses Point, New York
Map showing Rouses Point, New York (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
  • gun-toting tin soldiers
What happened when a roadblock netted a bad guy?
The car was put up for auction, and guess who usually bought it? At least the troopers got some revenue.
How’d the revenuers get rid of the booze?
    • In Rouses Point they tried flushing it down the toilet. But like today, flushing stuff not supposed to go in the sewer had dire consequences. The sewer line burst. It’s said the railroad tracks in Rouses Point ran with rum.
“Whiskey Gully” (my name) on Webster St.
  • In Malone, uncorroborated reports say Canadian whiskey was dumped on Webster St. About a mile up from Route 11 a gully tuns down toward what is now Wilcox St. and the Rec Park. Supposedly lots of booze got jettisoned there. (I think it’s time for a walk to look for some wayward bottles. Should be appropriately aged by now).
And I’ll close with a quiz:
Who was the beer baron associated with Saranac Lake?
Who was the beer baron known in Malone?
The answers next week.


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