Rum Road to Spokane

Fahey, Edmund. Rum Road to Spokane: A Story of Prohibition. Missoula: U of Montana, 1972. Print.

An old bootlegger during Prohibition, Edmund Fahey explains his views and his adventures in the bootlegging business when alcohol was banned in the 1920’s. Using Canadian export houses as a source, he details the practices of the “runners” in avoiding the cops in getting the alcohol down from up north. Some of these techniques used include paying off Indians to transit their lands, using dirt roads, convoy strategies, car modification, and using snipers in the back of cars. Although business was tough, it was more than profitable through the early 1920’s, until the desire for moonshine over hard liquor developed, leading to a decline in bootlegging.

The book, being mainly about the running of alcohol, seemed to be lacking in the specifics of how they modified their cars to transport alcohol. Although there were some details in how mechanics modified the cars to the needs of the runners, there was not much detail on the specific cars bought by bootleggers, the engines of said cars, or how the type of bootlegging vehicles was more superior than other options such as lighter cars.

Although the book was more about the running of alcohol, rather than how they modified their cars to avoid the police, there was some very interesting insight in the book into how the rise of bootlegging during Prohibition led to the change in taste for American cars. First off, the cars desired by people became bigger and bigger during Prohibition, mainly due to the ability for such cars to hold more liquor, but even after Prohibition the desire for larger cars continued. In addition, the size of engines in American cars became bigger due to bootleggers wanting to out run the police with their cars, which were necessary due to the cars being bigger to hold more alcohol. Finally, the book detailed how mechanics tinkered with the cars to make more space to hold alcohol, loosen or tighten the suspension, add in springs for comfort, or modify the tires and rims for the environment being entered.

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