Tuesday, January 03, 2012

ABC Wednesday
January 4th, 2012

The letter this week is the curious Y
Why, you ask?  - well just because we are coming to the end of the alphabet and have only one more week to go in Round 9 of ABC Wednesday, kindly sponsored by Mrs. Nesbitt and her Young-at-heart helpers.

Y is for Yahk - located in the southern end of the East Kootenays along the beautiful Moyie River Yahk is a small B.C. town where Charles and I once spent a few winter months about sixty three years ago, when he was working on the construction of a bridge leading into town and I was pregnant with our second child.  What I remember is the snow, and the woods and the incredible kindness of the residents of the town who remembered to tell Santa about our two year old son who would be attending the annual Christmas party.  And I remember all the mittens I knitted for Christmas presents, because this was how my hands coped with empty time....

The Goat Soap company in Yahk

Years later David and Nicola who now make wooden rings in the wilds of the Cariboo, were a vibrant presence in this town, and I'm sure have many wonderful remembrances of the people who live there and the woods and the snow and the history of the place.  Amongst their friends  was a far removed cousin whose shared ancestors came to Canada as United Empire Loyalists  circa 1775.

Yahk has a great railroading history and at the time we were there steam engines still pulled the railroad cars through the mountains of the Kootenays.

It is a quiet town now, - a pleasant backwater where nature is the chief tourist attraction.  HOWEVER - rumour has it that Yahk benefited from more than railroading and lumbering, and the dilapidated provincial police barrack and gaol built in 1919 does not live out its days for nothing.  When in 1919 Woodrow Wilson signed into law the Volsted Act that brought prohibition to the United States it immediately became 'corruptngly profitable' to distil booze in southern B.C. and run it south.  'Yahk, in such close proximity to the border, was a handy location for stills, and numerous caches of liquor are said to have been secreted in the vicinity awaiting trans-shipment.'

On dark nights powerful Oldsmobiles, souped-up and concealing tanks in their trunks and under their back seats, roared down the highway into Idaho, while reliable Fords, similarly outfitted, stole quietly along back-woods trails to slip undetected across the Border.  Of the hundred of thousands of dollars that changed hands, much of it flowed through Yahk, and secret stashes are whispered to lie there yet in those woods, awaiting the return of long-gone smugglers.



Overnight, on December 5th, 1933 when FDR signed the order repealing the misgided Act, Yahk lost its illicit income and now the secret stashes are good only to attract visitors to the area!!

If you would like to read more about the letter Y visit the postings here, at Mrs. Nesbitt's ABC Wednesday .

15 comments:

photowannabe said...

What a fascinating history. Thanks for sharing that illustrious time in history.

Carver said...

I enjoyed the history and photographs so much.

Roger Owen Green said...

I'm young at heart! How sweet!
ROG, ABC Wednesday team

Gigi Ann said...

That was such a nice history lesson of Yahk. And I love the picture of that cute little Goat Soap building.

Paula Scott said...

What a great story! And, congratulations on 63 years of marriage!! What an accomplishment!

Tumblewords: said...

A delightful story!!

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

What an interesting post. Amazing what sometimes goes on in out-of-the-way places! And Yahk - what a name: sounds like upper-class English conversation "Yahk, yahk, yahk!"

Reader Wil said...

Thank you Hildred and Charles for this fascinating piece of history. It is as if we actually see the smugglers stealing through the woods. You described the situation so well!
I wish you all the best in 2012 ! May we all experience a quieter year than the past year.

jabblog said...

Most enjoyable. I wonder if anyone will ever find the alleged stashes of money.

EG Wow said...

Fascinating story! I think I shall look Yahk up on a map!

Meryl Jaffe, PhD said...

What a warm, colorful testament to Yahk. Next time we head that way (which I hope will be soon - it's so lovely) I will be sure we stop there!

Jenn Jilks said...

Hildred, I haven't visited in awhile. I adore your header photo. I'm coming up to 9 1/2 years married. (Accountant, #2!) We are doing well.

Good for you on 63. WOW. My late mom died just after her 61st wedding anniversary. Happier, me, not being with accountant #1 (1975 - we were married!)!

Cheers from Cottage Country, Ontario!

nonizamboni said...

A rollicking good story of a long ago town. I loved reading your memories. And, my husband grew up in Coeur d'Alene, ID in Kootenai county.
p.s. still knitting mittens?

Jo Bryant said...

terrific post - loved learning all the history

D Herrod said...

Thanks for sharing. Very interesting.