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Pasadena History: Battle for Whiskey

During prohibition in Pasadena, locals operated whiskey stills that were raided and destroyed with dynamite by the federal government.

Here’s your weekly dose of some Pasadena history thanks to The Pasadena Peninsula by Isabel Shipley Cunningham.

In the '20s, during the era of prohibition, local whiskey makers battled the government, who tried to blow up their stills with dynamite.

“The decade of the twenties was the era of prohibition and bootleggers,” Cunningham wrote. “Some residents of the peninsula operated stills and speakeasies, while others were runners who delivered to customers.

“Stills along the Magothy, on Bodkin Neck, and near Lake Waterford produced the whiskey that moonshiners took to Baltimore or Washington, sometimes in Packard Club Sedan.

“Rumors say the runners were protected by well-connected politicians, but federal agents raided stills and destroyed them with dynamite. Stories are told of a boiler that hung from tree branches after a still was blown up and of a narrow escape from agents by rowboat.

“Local lore relates that the whiskey made on the Pasadena Peninsula was so good that demand persisted and stills continued to operate after the repeal of prohibition in 1934. Moonshiners, bootleggers, and speakeasies were part of the picturesque vocabulary of the roaring twenties.”

Check back next Wednesday for more Pasadena history. For a complete listing of all Tidbits of History columns, please click here.

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