Prohibition and Big Bear
RichardG, Mon Nov 05 2018, 09:38PM

Over the years I have had read many stories about historical events that have occurred in Big Bear. There is one in particular that I found very fascinating. It involves prohibition and a particular raid by federal agents in 1923. The basic story line is as follows:

 Two prohibition agents (husband and wife) stayed in Big Bear for a week in June of 1923 and gather evidence by buying alcohol from locals.
 Federal Agents with county warrants came back in two weeks and arrest 17 people on Friday July 6th 1923.
 Those arrested were mainly bootleggers, two were moonshiners and several people were arrested for possession.
 The violators were taken and held in county jail.
 When the Feds left on Saturday they left outstanding warrants with the local constable.
 A few days later the prisoners were brought back for trial to Judge Clifford Lynn’s court.
 Several paid fines, others served 30 to 90 days on road crew on Clark Grade.

Local historians have covered this story over the years through various venues. Among those are:

• Rick Keppler and Kim Sweet touched on it in one of their Big Bear Channel 6 History Shows
• Tom Core makes mention of the raid in one of his Bearly Remembered articles
• Syd Sullivan in a 1978 Highland newspaper has an article on it. He uses unidentified sources that he
said are trustworthy.
• John Robinson in his book The San Bernardinos has the same basic story but does not give a source.
• Clifford Walker when questioned about the story in his book One Eye Red the other Closed says he does
not remember the source.

As this research project got underway, I noticed that there was a lot of information that I did not know and a lot of just plain misunderstanding concerning prohibition.

I found these newly discovered facts very interesting and developed a PowerPoint presentation for the Big Bear Historical Society. As the presentation grew and grew, I realized it was too large for just one presentation. The end result was to split the information into three parts.

• The first part deals with the politics and social issues that lead up to the passage of the 18th
• The second part explains what measures people took to get around the law and what took place to get
the 18th amendment repealed.
• The last part is titled Big Bear Confidential. This is where we look into the what activities were going
on in Big Bear during prohibition. Was there such a tail and who were the bootleggers working in the
area at that time.

As the presentation shows how the various political forces evolved and worked their way to their goals/agendas it is interesting to see some comparisons to various current issues. Advocates and defenders of smoking, non-smoking, vaping, marijuana, gun control and gun rights could all learn a lot by reviewing how prohibition was handled.

It is interesting to note that all of the US Constitutional amendments up to that time explain and guarantee some particular freedom, except for the 18th amendment. It is the one amendment that took a freedom away from the citizens.

The following slides are from the first section that was presented to the Big Bear Historical Society last month. Obviously if you attended the first meeting you would have been able to hear a lot more about the background of this project. Hopefully readers will be able to follow the main points by viewing and you will come to the second part of the presentation which will be given at the Historical Society meeting to be held on November 8th, 2018 at the Discovery Center at 7:00 pm. The public is welcome. There is no admission.


Re: Prohibition and Big Bear
Radha, Thu Nov 08 2018, 06:29AM

Tonight should be awesome, you're a good presenter Richard!

Re: Prohibition and Big Bear
Between ⭐️S, Wed Jan 09 2019, 06:42AM

Don’t miss out, come by for the Big Bear Valley Historical Society’s General Meeting on Jan, 10th at Whispering Pines Estates Moble Home park’s club house at 7 pm for Part 3 of Prohibition in Big Bear.