100 Year’s Since Minnesota and Wisconsin Agreed to Prohibition

Northland Uncovered: January 17 marks the 100 year anniversary of Wisconsin and Minnesota agreeing to a ban on alcohol

SUPERIOR, Wis.- January 17 marks the 100 year anniversary of Wisconsin and Minnesota agreeing to a ban on alcohol.

“The overturning of prohibition, of course, was with the 21st amendment. And we just celebrated; actually it was 85 years in December,” business manager Jon Winter, from the Douglas County Historical Society said.

But before the 18th amendment was overturned, prohibition withstood a long 13 years banning the production, importation, transportation and sale of alcoholic beverages in the United States.

Jan. 16, 1919 Nebraska became the 36th state to ratify the amendment that called for the ban. Meaning ¾ of the nation’s states at that time agreed on the amendment, turning that ban into a law.

Jan. 17, Minnesota and Wisconsin followed in their footsteps calling for the Volstead Act.

“It got the name Volstead over a Minnesota congressman who was very instrumental in pushing national prohibition,” Winter said.

The act officially became law later that year in October 1919 to take affect January of the following year.

Prohibition started an era of underhanded alcohol sales and going to secret bars known as speakeasies.

“There was definitely a lot of speakeasies and bootleg liquor going through superior,”Winter said.

The ports were a major transportation route for illegal alcohol traveling to other places in the Midwest.

Belknap Liquor & Lounge in Superior displays a wall of photos remembering a time when the community wasn’t free to enjoy each other’s company in a bar.

We’ve got a few pictures of the prohibition era, a few policemen smashing kegs of beer, when it was illegal to have alcohol on the premises and they’ve just never seen anything like that,” Co-owner of the Belknap Alan Jaques said.

Jaques keeps hundreds of pictures from the Twin Ports throughout its history in his bar because he says it’s important to remember eras like prohibition 100 years later for young people who have never experienced anything like it.

“It’s always important to know where you’ve come, and there photographs are a big part of where this community’s come from,” Jaques said.

The Douglas County Historical Society will be remembering the 100 year anniversary of prohibition in the Twin Ports through 2020. Winter says it’s amazing how far the region has come with well over 10 breweries in such a small area today.

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