When I write about moonshiners, I feel like I’m writing about Elliot Ness and the Untouchables. Here’s a moonshiner article I wrote for The Chambersburg Public Opinion that ran on Monday. I think this is the third story about moonshining I’ve written. I did one a couple of months ago set in Allegany County and a few years ago, I wrote about the death of Frederick County Sheriff’s Deputy in a raid on a still in the Catoctin Mountains.
I also recently was given a copy of an unpublished memoir about life in a coal mining town in the first half of the 20th Century. It has a section in it about Prohibition and moonshining in the mountains. It even has diagrams and recipes for making your own adult beverages.
I always thought moonshine applied to all illegal liquor during Prohibition, but this miner only called homemade whiskey moonshine. Homemade beer was called home brew and homemade wine was called pick handle.
I can see why people continued making it after Prohibition. Besides wanting a strong drink, it was very profitable to be a moonshiner. For about $1.05 cents in ingredients, you could make 5 gallons of home brew that would sell for 25 cents a quart. So you could get $5 for what cost you $1.05 to make. The profit was a half-day wages for a miner at the time.
He also wrote out a list of all the shortcuts moonshiners could take to get more product from each batch or get their batches done faster. Some of them you had to watch out for or you might wind up killing yourself.