in Washington County, Utah


On October 21, 1911, St. George passed an ordinance prohibiting the manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquors. Yet, as St. George and other communities found, regulating people's drinking habits was no easy task. Less than two months after the bill's enactment, several young men secured a five-gallon keg of wine and sneaked west of the city to indulge. After enjoying much of the illegal liquid one young man, for no apparent reason, shot and wounded one of his drinking buddies. News of the incident traveled fast, and soon the whole group was arrested and tried for drunkenness. One pled guilty and was fined $7. Four others were acquitted due to lack of evidence, and two more were found guilty and fined $10 each.

Utah enacted statewide prohibition effective August 1, 1917.

The 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was proposed by Congress on December 18, 1917. It prohibited the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors (used for beverage purposes) within the United States and its possessions. The amendment was ratified by the required 36 states on January 16, 1919 when North Carolina, Utah, and Nebraska became the 34th, 35th, and 36th states to ratify it. The ratification was certified on January 29, 1917 with the amendment taking effect on January 17, 1920.

The National Prohibition Act (aka the Volstead Act), passed on October 29 (28th?), 1919. It established the legal definition of intoxicating liquor and provided for enforcement. It became enforceable on January 18, 1920.

In Utah's Dixie, when one local drugstore began selling "tonic beverages," a question arose over the definition of "intoxicating liquors." While the town clerk wrote to the state attorney general for clarification, town leaders instructed the marshal to request that the drugstore "promise to stop selling alcoholic tonic." If the store manager refused, the marshal was to threaten nonrenewal of his business license. The scare tactics proved unnecessary when the store owner agreed to remove the offensive liquid from the shelves.

The 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (repealing the 18th Amendment) was proposed by Congress on February 20, 1933. In the election of November 7, 1933, the people of Utah voted for repeal of national prohibition and repeal of Utah's state liquor law. The State Ratifying Convention on December 5, 1933 made Utah the 36th state (36 states were required) to ratify the amendment which then became effective on December 15.

Utah remained a dry state until 3.2% beer was legalized in January of 1934. Then in 1935, a state liquor monopoly was established which has lasted to the present time.




When, What and How on Liquor
by E. J. Pickett
Washington County News,   Volume 26, Number 46 (November 16, 1933), Pages 1 and 8

Bootlegging in Utah's Dixie
by Bernice Bradshaw
Dixie College,   May 28, 1984 <-- Research paper written for English Professor Edna Gregerson. -->

Bootlegging in Zion: Making and Selling the "Good Stuff"
by Helen Zeese Papanikolas
Utah Historical Quarterly,   Volume 53, Number 3 (Summer 1985),   Pages 268-291

"Practically Free from the Taint of the Bootlegger": A Closer Look at Prohibition in Southeastern Utah
by Jody Bailey and Robert S. McPherson
Utah Historical Quarterly,   Volume 57, Number 2 (Spring 1989),   Pages 150-164

Prohibition Failed to Stop the Liquor Flow in Utah
by W. Paul Reeve
Utah History to Go   (First published in History Blazer, February 1995)

Southern Utah Memories: Prohibition fails in Utah,
by Loren R. Webb,   October 4, 2013