With the passing of the Volstead Act of 1919 the prohibition era of the United States had begun. Throughout America cocktail parties sparkled defiantly through the dreaded first minutes of January 20, 1920. With morning would come the official start of Prohibition. It was easy, however, to keep the party going in Long Beach, California. Though Long Beach had been “dry” throughout most of its history, illegal liquor distribution throughout the city was already perfected by the time the 18th Amendment, banning the sale of most alcoholic beverages, became law. Already in place were underground booze operations, secretive speakeasies and bootlegging.
The Portuguese Bend area of Palos Verdes was a hotbed of rum running activity during Prohibition – and it wasn’t just rum. Contraband spirits of all sorts were brought from Mexico, Canada, and even New York to the L.A. Metropolitan area via certain areas of the coast that were particularly vulnerable to penetration. Portuguese bend was a favorite for smaller vessels making runs from Dead Mans and Catalina Island. The shoreline was dotted caves and crevasses that provided shelter and storage for the smugglers and included secluded trails and even a landing strip leading to the surrounding cities.