The History of Malone: How Dry I am
Posted by thedarwinexception on March 28, 2007
With the advent of prohibition, the Malone area became a part of the “far flung bottle line” to stem the flow of illegal liquor from Canada, and rum running became an unwelcome but ordinary part of North Country life.
A complete history of the region’s part in the “dry era” would contain some rather stirring, blood soaked stories, including about everything in the rum toting category from bootlegging and hijacking to running gun fights through the streets of the peaceful village.
Malone became occupied by a colorful garrison of prohibition enforcement officers and, in the flush years, the community was accustomed to seeing long fleets of seized booze cars brought in almost daily. And this region will long remember certain death rides on the Poke-o-Moonshine Road, the Lost Nation Road, the Mary Reilly Road and other obscure highways stretching up into the Adirondacks from the quiet reaches of the St. Lawrence River.
Most of the local Northern bootleggers were tools of big city organizations and the names of Legs Diamond, Dutch Schultz and other beer barons of the time crept often into enforcement procedures here.
Liquor traffic through the area tapered off in the last years, when prohibition became more openly flouted downstate by illegal still operators and bootlegging became a lesser evil hereabouts when John Barleycorn finally staggered forth from hi grave. But the long and unsuccessful warfare to keep him properly interred left many colorful but unpleasant recollections in Malone, including the story of the bootleggers who always dodged rabbits on the rum trail, no matter how hard pressed, but steered head on into Enforcement Officers.
The prohibition years also changed the face of the town architecturally. Among new buildings erected amid the tumult of the rum runners were the new Franklin Academy, the court house, the new Wead Library and the post office, which joined the fabulous Flanagan Hotel, which had been erected in 1914.
Main Street as it stands today was slowly emerging.