Bootleggers, moonshiners, and rum runners rejoiced when Prohibition banned the manufacture, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages in the United States. Florida’s long and undulating coastline provided an open door for illicit booze from the Caribbean, and the state’s extensive forests, swamps, scrub, hammocks, and bayous provided ample cover for stills. In 1926, Charlotte County in southwest Florida gained recognition for the biggest haul of contraband liquor on record.
Police testing moonshine after a raid, Immokalee, 1950s
After Prohibition ended, moonshining remained an important business in Florida. In the 1950s, Baker County in northeast Florida became known as the Shine Capitol of the South. Moonshiners in the Okefenokee Swamp purportedly dodged water moccasins to get to their stills. Stories abound of daring deliveries in souped-up vehicles loaded with “white lightning” and speeding down the highway from Baxter, Florida to Fargo, Georgia.
Disposing of confiscated moonshine, Tallahassee, 1958
Revenue agent James E. Bowdoin with a confiscated still, Tallahassee, 1922
Destruction of a still, Miami, 1925
Destruction of a still, Polk County, 1920s
Car seized at home of L.E. Wilkerson, Baker County, 1940s
Moonshining still, Duval County, 1920s
Moonshining equipment, Duval County, ca. 1930
Thirsty for more? Check out more images of moonshiners and the Prohibition era on Florida Memory.