Prohibition in Oregon: the Vision and the Reality

Mt. Hood beer label

Even before Oregon became part of the United States its citizens tried to control the manufacture and sale of liquor. In spite of this early effort, a thriving commerce developed to import, brew, distill, and dispense a wide variety of products. Still, by the late 1800s the temperance movement forced the question of a complete ban on liquor to the forefront of the nation's social debate. And, by 1916 Oregonians began to live with prohibition. The state law took effect three years before the ratification of the 18th amendment to the U.S. Constitution that banned liquor nationally. But soon enterprising individuals -and organized crime- filled the void with illegal stills, rumrunning, and speakeasies. Oregon law enforcement geared up to respond to this challenge but couldn't keep up. Eventually, Oregon and the rest of the nation tired of the experiment. By 1933 voters repealed both the state law and the national constitutional amendment.

Heidelberg beer label

 

A thriving liquor commerce before prohibition

Liquor control, temperance, and the call for prohibition

The prohibition years: bootleggers and imagination

The repeal of prohibition: Oregon wearies of the struggle

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