Museum logo
Museum logo

Photo Record

  • Email This Page
  • Send Feedback
Catalog Number D.II.027.A,B
Caption Police capture still
Description Anacortes police with captured bootleg liquor still. The photo was taken in front of City Hall -- 1107 5th Street between N and O avenues. Pictured from left to right: Unknown; Policeman Tom March, listed in 1912 city directory as the city marshall - also see WF 4230; Town Marshall/Police Chief Al Sellenthin, wearing glasses, police chief 1923-1933 (he was the last Town Marshall. The department converted from Marshal to a Police Dept sometime between 1923 and 1933) -- also see WF 4644. Note that neither law officer is wearing a uniform. Image was taken prior to the era of police uniforms, which caused citizen complaints. The 9-17-1925 ANACORTES AMERICAN reported, "Anacortes police need to wear star on uniforms: people not from town are not sure of who they are." The 3-11-1926 issue reported, "Anacortes police may get uniforms." This image was taken at the height of Prohibition; the 18th Amendment prohibiting the sale of alcohol became effective in 1920. Anacortes had been "dry" since January 1, 1916, when Washington State enacted its own dry laws and shut down the many taverns operating on Commercial Avenue. The law resulted in a surge of illegal activity as people brewed their own moonshine liquor at home, and "rum runners" smuggled alcohol from Canada to Washington via the San Juan Islands. The Anacortes police and county sheriff contended with countless liquor stills operating in the woods of Fidalgo Island, while the Coast Guard had its hands full chasing down scores of "rum runners" operating off the Washington coast. See WF 1683. Largely as a result of that smuggling activity, coast Guard Section Base 12 opened in Anacortes in December 1924. Almost every week, the front page of the ANACORTES AMERICAN reported on the Coast Guard's arrest of yet another smuggling boat trying to run the gauntlet between Vancouver Island and the Washington coast. They pursued many of them to the west side of Whidbey Island, which as a favorite dumping ground for alcohol. Smugglers then transported the liquor to the island's eastern side via truck, where another boat took the booze down the inside passage to Seattle and the vicinity. The 11-19-1925 paper reported, "Coast Guard have thrilling night battle with rum runners and make big capture of liquor." The 11-24-1927 issue reported the Coast Guard's seizure of a "Thanksgiving Day" shipment of whiskey on Whidbey Island as it was being unloaded at West Beach. The rum runners "escaped in a shower of bullets," leaving the Coast Guard with "76 cases of assorted liquor." Prohibition was repealed in 1934 by the 21st Amendment, which was ratified on December 5, 1933.
Date 1925/ /
Photographer JUDD, Charles LeRoy (possibly), or Bower and Brady (1924-1926)
Subjects Place - Anacortes, WA
Structure - City Hall
Organization - Police Department
Credit line donated by Wallie Funk
People MARCH, J. Thomas "Tom"
SELLENTHIN, Alfred "Al" R.
Place Anacortes, WA
Search Terms liquor still
City Hall
1107 5th Street
Police Department
Object Name Print, Photographic