This is the seventh article in a series on Prohibition in Park City.
Raids in Park City continued in 1925, with the Park Record reporting that at any sign of trouble with the law, bartenders could press a button that allowed all alcohol containers to be “upset and broken” leaving only glass pieces and a scent for an officer to find, which is not sufficient evidence for an arrest or conviction. The newspaper lamented in April that soft drink parlors should be renamed “hard drink dives,” and that the City Council was at the root of all of Park City’s Prohibition problems for allowing parlors with fines and arrests to continue to operate, and to keep granting new parlor licenses.
The law seems to have improved at least slightly by 1925, for a raid on a moonshining operation at the Moore Mill in Woodside Canyon nearly landed a man in the Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary for his second offense for distilling liquor. More raids continued in 1926. One man, after a raid found nothing behind his counter or under his jacket, was released only to immediately reach down, unstrap a bottle of liquor from each calf under his pantlegs, and toss them out the back window of his parlor, the evidence of liquor being broken and lost.
One reader was evidently fed up with the Park Record’s obsession of reporting every single item related to Prohibition, its violations, and complaining of Park City’s problems with lawbreakers. He wrote in an editorial to the newspaper that all mining camps in the West had open violation of Prohibition, in addition to holdups, murders, and “vices of every description.” He challenged readers to believe Park City was as morally corrupt and to take the Park Record’s word that Park City was the “Hell Hole of Utah.” He urged readers, instead, to think of what a great community Park City was.
By July 1926, the Park Record still believed that Prohibition was “here to stay” and that it was a “shame and disgrace” how the law was openly violated and unenforced. They were excited when the mayor again closed down the parlors in September. Apparently, the mayor’s daughter was nearly kidnapped by a drunken man, expediting his decision to act on liquor violations in town. New licenses were granted for new parlors the following week.
Local and federal officers continued raids in Park City in from 1927 to at least 1931. One visitor to Park City was toured around town, including to all the liquor-serving soft drink parlors. He wrote a letter to the Park Record lamenting the drunkenness of the miners and even insinuated that the sex workers on Park City’s row were bootleggers.
In July 1929, the Park Record was still convinced that “Prohibition is a success” and “the principles of Prohibition are still right.” Principles and morality aside, it was clear by 1933 that Prohibition was not successful. The 21st Amendment to repeal national Prohibition was introduced February 20, 1933. Park City voters voted in favor of the repeal by a 1,215 to 195, meaning Park City’s delegate to the legislature would vote to repeal. Utah legislators voted in favor of the repeal on December 5, 1933, allowing Utah to become the 36th state to ratify the 21st Amendment, sealing the national victory for those who wanted alcohol legal again.
This series will be extended later this summer with stories of a drunk doctor and of the mayor’s daughter nearly being kidnapped. Watch the Museum’s most recent lecture – about Prohibition – on their YouTube Channel. Dalton Gackle is giving a lecture about general Park City life and mining history on June 22 from 5 to 6 p.m. at the Museum’s Education and Collections Center at 2079 Sidewinder Dr. Register here.
“Fined $150.00.” Park Record, March 13, 1925.
“The Effect of Licensing Low down Joints.” Park Record, April 10, 1925.
“Carlson and Siddoway Guilty of Moonshining.” Park Record, August 21, 1925.
“Good Work Done by Federal Officers.” Park Record, January 22, 1926.
“To Friend, Citizen, and Taxpayers.” Park Record, January 22, 1926.
“Let Park City Set an Example.” Park Record, July 2, 1926.
“So-Called Soft Drink Parlors Locked Up.” Park Record, September 17, 1926.
“Soft Drink Parlors Opened by Council.” Park Record, September 24, 1926.
“Big Still Found and Destroyed.” Park Record, February 25, 1927; “Geo. Tippetts Caught.” Park Record, January 20, 1928; “Seventeen Warrants Served in Park City.” Park Record, March 23, 1928; “Soft Drinks Only.” Park Record, June 8, 1928; “Park Float.” Park Record, June 8, 1928; “General Items.” Park Record, November 21, 1930; “Not Guilty Said the Jury.” Park Record, October 16, 1931; and more.
“Shame Mr. Mayor and Park City Officers.” Park Record, September 14, 1928.
“The Stroller Notices.” Park Record, July 5, 1929.
“Democrats and Wets Victorious in Park City.” Park Record, November 10, 1933.