ART at Liquor Still Bay – hidden history in the Everglades

.

EVERGLADES PHOTOGRAPHY and DIGITAL ART from the TEN THOUSAND ISLANDS

.

It starts with nothing. Nothing out of the ordinary in the mangrove thicket jungle of the ten thousand islands. Nothing out of place among a mangrove framed, tea colored small bay. One out of hundreds just like it, deep in the Everglades coastal waters.

.

Flex Maslan kayakfari Liquor Still Bay everglades moonshine totch brown 10000 islands ten thousand art prohibition gladesmen history chokoloskee

Overgrown mangrove jungle at the Liquor Still Bay site in the Ten Thousand Islands.

.

Nothing but a rotted old wood plank or two give away the location of this hidden piece of old Everglades history.

.

Flex Maslan kayakfari Liquor Still Bay everglades moonshine totch brown 10000 islands ten thousand art prohibition gladesmen history chokoloskee

Remains of the old hidden dock that lead into the liquor still site.

.

This bay bears the unofficial name of “Liquor Still Bay” and has the distinction of being the site of a clandestine moonshine operation from the Prohibition era of the early 1930s. The site was cleared and built up by John J. Brown, the father of sometimes famous, sometimes infamous lifelong Chokoloskee resident and true Gladesman Loren G. “Totch” Brown.

Following the old wooden planks, is a bit like entering a “plein air” time capsule.

.

Flex Maslan kayakfari Liquor Still Bay everglades moonshine totch brown 10000 islands ten thousand art prohibition gladesmen chokoloskee history

“Outlaw Time Portal”
Available from Kayakfari ART Photography.
Entering a time portal into the Prohibition era of the old Everglades!

.

John J. Brown essentially created his own “shell mound” on this secret spot by hauling in fill to raise the elevation above the high tide line. The old planks were part of a boat dock and were always hidden so that nothing could be seen if someone happened to go inside the little bay.

.

Flex Maslan kayakfari Liquor Still Bay everglades moonshine totch brown 10000 islands ten thousand art prohibition gladesmen history chokoloskee

On high tide in the summer, sections of the path are underwater.

.

After maybe 20 feet the wood gives way to a hard packed trail made of shells, sand, limestone and cement. Framed by wood timbers, this path has stood the test of time, or at least the last 85 years or so.

.

Flex Maslan kayakfari Liquor Still Bay everglades moonshine totch brown 10000 islands ten thousand art prohibition gladesmen history chokoloskee

Crushed shell raised walkway built by John J. Brown circa 1930.

.

Finally, in a overgrown clearing of sorts the liquor still site is revealed as it literally pops out of the jungle!

.

Flex Maslan kayakfari Liquor Still Bay everglades moonshine totch brown 10000 islands ten thousand art prohibition gladesmen history chokoloskee

Totch Brown’s Liquor Still in the Ten Thousand Islands, Everglades.
“A view to a Still.”
CLICK for superwide VR panorama!

.

The liquor still is in two parts. The brick fire pit is original as constructed in 1930. The still on top is an aluminum replica of the original copper still. It was put there in the mid 1990’s by Totch himself for a video production about his life called The Everglades Outlaw, Totch Brown.

.

Flex Maslan kayakfari Liquor Still Bay everglades moonshine totch brown 10000 islands ten thousand art prohibition gladesmen history chokoloskee

“Everglades Liquor Still Bay”
Available from Kayakfari ART Photography.
Ant’s eye ground view of Liquor Still Bay.

.

Totch’s family lived in an 8 x 14 foot tar shack that stood just behind the still. As a young boy, Totch learned to hunt, trap, fish and survive in the Everglades any way he could. During the Depression, times were really hard and the income from the moonshine helped his father to literally put a roof over their heads.

.

Flex Maslan kayakfari Liquor Still Bay everglades moonshine totch brown 10000 islands ten thousand art prohibition gladesmen history chokoloskee

Remains of an old wooden liquor barrel. The only question is whether it’s from the 1930’s or 90’s?

.

Next to the still lie the remains of a wooden barrel and a concrete lined pen used to store equipment and the fermenting corn sugar “buck” (pulp) and barrels of ‘shine whiskey.

.

Flex Maslan kayakfari Liquor Still Bay everglades moonshine totch brown 10000 islands ten thousand art prohibition gladesmen history chokoloskee

This is the concrete lined pen Totch’s father built as described in his book .. to keep bugs and worms from getting into the liquor barrels!

.

Flex Maslan kayakfari Liquor Still Bay everglades moonshine totch brown 10000 islands ten thousand art prohibition gladesmen history chokoloskee

Red brick masonry and rusting iron at the liquor still in the Everglades.

.

Other than the original circa 1930 brickwork, it’s tough to tell what else is from that vintage. I’d venture to say that most of the wood seen is from the re-creation of the the camp by Totch in the early to mid 1990’s. The concrete and rusting iron might be original, but then again maybe he also spruced that up only 20 years ago.

.

Flex Maslan kayakfari Liquor Still Bay everglades moonshine totch brown 10000 islands ten thousand art prohibition gladesmen history chokoloskee

“Wood, metal & brick”
Available from Kayakfari ART Photography.
Inside the old liquor still.

.

Flex Maslan kayakfari Liquor Still Bay everglades moonshine totch brown 10000 islands ten thousand art prohibition gladesmen history chokoloskee

“Stillness on my mind”
Available from Kayakfari ART Photography.
A 360 circular panorama looking straight up, into the still.

.

Flex Maslan kayakfari Liquor Still Bay everglades moonshine totch brown 10000 islands ten thousand art prohibition gladesmen history chokoloskee

CHEERS to Totch Brown & all Gladesmen!

.

Flex Maslan kayakfari Liquor Still Bay everglades moonshine totch brown 10000 islands ten thousand art prohibition gladesmen history chokoloskee

“Bricks in still life”
Available from Kayakfari ART Photography.
Black and white studies of the old Everglades.

.

Flex Maslan kayakfari Liquor Still Bay everglades moonshine totch brown 10000 islands ten thousand art prohibition gladesmen history chokoloskee

Heavily rusted iron detail in gritty black and white.
Black and white studies of the old Everglades.

.

Flex Maslan kayakfari Liquor Still Bay everglades moonshine totch brown 10000 islands ten thousand art prohibition gladesmen history chokoloskee

“Prohibition Pen #1”
Available from Kayakfari ART Photography.
Roots and concrete, light and dark.

.

Flex Maslan kayakfari Liquor Still Bay everglades moonshine totch brown 10000 islands ten thousand art prohibition gladesmen history chokoloskee

“Prohibition Pen #2”
Available from Kayakfari ART Photography.
Note the interesting crosshatch pattern lining the inside walls!

.

The concrete pen was an attempt by Mr. Brown the senior to stay a step ahead of “prohibition bugs”. These tiny bugs burrowed into the wood of the barrels causing them to sprout many small leaks. His moonshine was true ‘Everglades Whiskey’ as he aged the fresh run ‘shine stashed in the mangroves for about six months. He was finally able to outdo the bugs by completely coating each barrel in a layer of plaster!

.

Flex Maslan kayakfari Liquor Still Bay everglades moonshine totch brown 10000 islands ten thousand art prohibition gladesmen history chokoloskee

“Wooden skeleton”
Available from Kayakfari ART Photography.
Old whiskey barrel in the Everglades.

.

Flex Maslan kayakfari Liquor Still everglades moonshine illegal 10000 islands ten thousand art prohibition gladesmen

Historical photo of similar liquor still site uncovered near Naples, Florida during the Prohibition era.
Photo source: floridamemory.com

.

Flex Maslan kayakfari Liquor Still everglades moonshine illegal 10000 islands ten thousand art prohibition gladesmen 1950s

Officers “testing” moonshine found at a hidden liquor distillery somewhere in the Everglades during the 1950’s!
Photo source: floridamemory.com

.

Flex Maslan kayakfari Liquor Still everglades moonshine illegal 10000 islands ten thousand art prohibition gladesmen 1925

Historical photo of moonshine operation uncovered near Miami, Florida in 1925.
Photo source: floridamemory.com

.

Flex Maslan kayakfari Liquor Still Bay everglades moonshine totch brown 10000 islands ten thousand art prohibition gladesmen history chokoloskee

“Shine on you crazy Outlaws!”
Available from Kayakfari ART Photography.

.

Flex Maslan kayakfari Liquor Still Bay everglades moonshine totch brown 10000 islands ten thousand art prohibition gladesmen history chokoloskee

“Split open”
Available from Kayakfari ART Photography.
A tree has split the concrete pen wide open over the decades!

.

Flex Maslan kayakfari Liquor Still Bay everglades moonshine totch brown 10000 islands ten thousand art prohibition gladesmen history chokoloskee

“Liquor Still Bay #1”
Available from Kayakfari ART Photography.

.

This moonshine operation was probably only active for a few years as Totch’s father moved his family to live nearby at the former homestead of Ed Watson, which is now a backcountry Everglades campsite called The Watson Place. Totch himself went on to live a “free life” as he called it, perhaps one of the very few and last people who got to live a full life in the Everglades!

.

Flex Maslan kayakfari Liquor Still Bay everglades moonshine totch brown 10000 islands ten thousand art prohibition gladesmen history chokoloskee

“Swamp Whiskey”
Available from Kayakfari ART Photography.

.

Flex Maslan kayakfari Liquor Still Bay everglades moonshine totch brown 10000 islands ten thousand art prohibition gladesmen history chokoloskee

“Swamp Still”
Available from Kayakfari ART Photography.

.

You can read up more about Liquor Still Bay and the life and times of Totch Brown in his excellent autobiography – Totch: A Life in the Everglades.

Also International Video Projects has several great videos about Totch and frontier living in the old Everglades.

.

Flex Maslan kayakfari Liquor Still Bay everglades moonshine totch brown 10000 islands ten thousand art prohibition gladesmen history chokoloskee

“Still reflections and the outlaw Shine!”
Available from Kayakfari ART Photography.

.

Please note that nothing was moved nor altered at this site.

Only photographs and toasts were taken! 😉

.

Flex Maslan kayakfari Liquor Still Bay everglades moonshine totch brown 10000 islands ten thousand art prohibition gladesmen history chokoloskee

My ride, the Banana Boat awaits in the mangroves of the liquor still site.

.

Check out more about paddling Liquor Still Bay and the Everglades at:

Moonshine in the 10 000 Islands

.

Camping Hell in the Ten Thousand Islands

and

Heaven or Hell: Summer paddling and camping in the Ten Thousand Islands

.

.

Flex Maslan kayakfari Liquor Still Bay everglades moonshine totch brown 10000 islands ten thousand art prohibition gladesmen chokoloskee history

! Represent

.

.

.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this bit of hidden Everglades history!

.

.

Available as high quality archival prints for sale directly to you in various sizes for all your collecting, decorating and viewing pleasures and needs!

Images are also available to license for your print or  digital editorial uses!

E-mail me for a price list or for a quote

.

.

.

rasta happy kayakfari kayak canoe paddle photography adventure miami

.

.

Related stories you might also enjoy:

.

Crossing paths of Gladesmen, Gator hunters, Outlaws & Moonshiners: An invitation to paddling forgotten trails of the Everglades!

Flex Maslan kayakfari.com Bill Ashley Jungle Herman Lucerne backcountry Paurotis Pond kayakfari aerial Hells Bay canoe kayak trail everglades mangroves rabbit hole

Crossing paths of Gladesmen, Gator hunters, Outlaws & Moonshiners: An invitation to paddling forgotten trails of the Everglades!

.

Grass Paddling in the East Everglades Expansion Area – History, Gladesmen & more Grass!

East Everglades Grass kayakfari canoe paddle Expansion Area airboat camp addition lands kayak Flex Maslan

Grass Paddling in the East Everglades Expansion Area – History, Gladesmen & more Grass!

.

Kayaking at Shark Valley – A visit to Seagrape Hammock, aka Willoughby Key!

Flex Maslan kayakfari awakenthegrass kayak shark valley everglades paddling tree hammock seagrape sawgrass willoughby key 1898 circular fisheye

Kayaking at Shark Valley – A visit to Seagrape Hammock, aka Willoughby Key!

.

Everglades hiking with an Altitude – exploring the Slough and Sawgrass prairies of Shark Valley.

 Flex Maslan awakenthegrass.com Everglades Shark Valley Tower photography aerial awakenthegrass hike Slough art image kayakfari backcountry environment outback florida

Everglades hiking with an Altitude – exploring the Slough and Sawgrass prairies of Shark Valley.

.

.

.

© 2015 Flex Maslan / kayakfari.com / awakenthegrass.com. All original photographs, artworks and music in this portfolio are copyrighted and owned by the artist, Flex Maslan, unless otherwise noted. Any reproduction, modification, publication, transmission, transfer, or exploitation of any of the content, for personal or commercial use, whether in whole or in part, without written permission from the artist is strictly prohibited.

All rights reserved!

DISCLAIMER:: The maps and images on this site are not intended for navigation, I am not a guide; use any and all information at your own risk! Your mileage may vary .. so use good judgement before venturing out!

With that said..
Blessings friends!

:)

.