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Whiskey on the Lake

Maclure Library
Event organized by Maclure Library

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In this presentation, Dr. McLaughlin discusses how Lake Champlain was an important thoroughfare for smugglers during the Prohibition era.

During the Prohibition years, many professional smugglers and others avoided lawmen by using the open waters of Lake Champlain. Learn how these outlaws smuggled alcohol into the United States from Canada and how the U.S. Customs officers tried their best to stop the seemingly never-ending flow of booze between 1920-1933.

Lake Champlain has a long history of being a major smuggling route between the U.S. and Canada. From the Revolutionary War through today, smugglers have used this natural water highway to try to avoid government taxes, tariffs and embargoes.

Smugglers moved contraband both north and south to markets, hungry for products that were in short supply, banned, or too expensive. Early smuggling operations after the wars included the infamous Black Snake Affair in which two people were killed and resulted in the execution of one of the smugglers.