CHESTER HARRIS ( - )


Hi there – I’m Chester Harris – and yes, I am rather famous, or actually rather infamous for that matter.

You see, I am a local businessman without a storefront down around that fancy Yucaipa Hotel. I produce Yucaipa’s most famous elixir and best kept secret - top rate moonshine.
We had the perfect set up for the major production of the delicious drink – Yucaipa in its natural state is perfect for the raising of grain. By the 1870s and 1880s. Barley crops were a major industry. By the train came through Mentone and San Timoteo, production was at its peak. And just so you know, hops and grain were sent to Milwaukee to be brewed into beer. Well now, why not make your own? Our predecessors did and so did I. Got good at it too.
Oak Glen has been well known for its apples and hard cider. Well, my story is I wasn’t doing so good selling apples, so I added a little sugar to my hard cider and started selling it. Business got better and better.

My brother Ben and I did so well we started bootlegging too. We were really getting to be entrepreneurs. We started setting up stills around the area. We tried to add another still on the North Bench near that great spring, but that ornery Ray Webster tried thwart us by readjusting the road for heaven’s sake. Ha! As if that would stop us. Ben and I were very talented in avoiding jail time and being caught in the act. It just didn’t happen.

Calimesa was well known for its King’s Maelum, a fruit-based tonic that was supposed to fix anything that ailed a body. King’s bottling company was a major distributor of those local juices and tonics. All parts of the community had great water, grain and fruit resources and distilling operations were common. In fact, if you look at the famous King’s Maelum, you will see the revenuers and government sleuths finally.

The vast grain fields and ranches of the 19th century gave way to big subdivisions of the Redlands-Yucaipa land Company, but at the springs where fresh water flowed, hidden operations continued. If there was a major source of water, there was most likely was a distilling operation nearby. Like most crops in Yucaipa, we used what we need and sold the rest. It’s the American way- especially after the passage of the 18th amendment to the U.S. Constitution on January, 1920.

Now let me say, as the probation era raids did, indeed, threaten our lucrative ventures. I did move the business to another location at times. So did others in our industry.

Let me tell you about the most famous still – the “blind pig” at the east end of County Line Road. That was a real doozy. Edna Bise used to tell stories about the entourages of Ford trucks from Los Angeles loaded with sugar and supplies. The trucks flashed their lights at 10 p.m. to get through the gate and into the canyon area. In the wash just above the spring, there was a huge set-up with huge oak barrels and copper tubing in constant operation.
In town, we had a secret .