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Picturing the Past 165: Breakin' up a still

Posted Thursday, September 13, 2012, at 1:10 PM

Bedford County deputies and Sheriff Herman Sanders gather around a whiskey still found at a home on Highway 82 just west of Bell Buckle in June 1973. (T-G file photo by Bo Melson)
It's been two months, but if you thought the Picturing the Past blog was disappearing...it's not.

Here members of the Bedford County Sheriff's Department display one of three large stills found in 1973 at a home just west of Bell Buckle.

The news story said the stills could produce 3,000 to 4,000 gallons of whiskey per week "if the weather was right."

Herman Sanders was sheriff at the time - and today's sheriff, Randall Boyce, was one of the deputies on the scene.

Picturing the Past is featured regularly in this blog. Reader photo contributions are welcome.

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Buddy Owens in front of window and that is Randle on the left

-- Posted by Black Swan on Thu, Sep 20, 2012, at 11:35 AM

They may have gotten the still but it seems the Duke boys and Uncle Jessie got away.

-- Posted by cortnerkin on Wed, Sep 19, 2012, at 8:37 PM

I believe you will find the one in front of the window to be William Owens, and I thought that B.H. was the Sheriff and Herman the Deputy. Herman was the Sheriff after B.H. right?

-- Posted by walrite on Mon, Sep 17, 2012, at 12:10 PM

I agree with decorate1956 and bomelson on the names of the men. I also should know the one in front of the window, but my mind fails me on that one.

-- Posted by leeiii on Fri, Sep 14, 2012, at 2:15 PM

I believe this was Billy's still! I remember that bust. Who would cook down moonshine in the summer? Had a good fire going and the whole neighborhood was "smelling".. We all had a good laugh over it.

-- Posted by Union on Fri, Sep 14, 2012, at 2:11 PM

decorate1956 I think you are correct on those you named. Those stills and the mash in that house should have given off a strong smell all the way to downtown Bell Buckle, but there was very little odor.

-- Posted by bomelson on Fri, Sep 14, 2012, at 2:09 PM

If it was "west of Bell Buckle" and "near Hwy 82", that suggests it was one of the county's more notorious and repetitive moonshine-makers. I was raised within a couple miles of the place, and on occasion, while out hunting with Dad, we'd get within 'smelling distance' of one of the well-hidden 'stills, and we'd quickly do a 180 and get away from the place. Usually guarded by several unfriendly dogs...after one arrest, the proprietor allegedly shot all 10 of his dogs because they didn't warn him the raiding party was coming.

-- Posted by dkd57 on Fri, Sep 14, 2012, at 10:54 AM

It looks like three of them are Herman Sanders, B.H. Sanders and Virgil Casteel. The one at the fron left looks like Randall Boyce --- Is that possible? The one to the far right looks like Milton Sanders. Let me know what you think. Not sure who the one in front of the window is.

-- Posted by decorate1956 on Fri, Sep 14, 2012, at 10:29 AM

My dad would be in mourning looking at this picture. He always had mason jars filled with this stuff stashed in his shop to sell.

-- Posted by caligal on Fri, Sep 14, 2012, at 10:29 AM

David that picture brings back memories. Here in East Tennessee stills are still being busted up, albiet not on as regular a schedule as in days gone by.

-- Posted by leeiii on Fri, Sep 14, 2012, at 7:00 AM

I do seem to remember a time when busted up whiskey stills made regular appearances on the front page of the t-g. Another great pic David!

-- Posted by Tim Lokey on Thu, Sep 13, 2012, at 11:46 PM

Boy, that does not look too appetizing.

-- Posted by stevemills on Thu, Sep 13, 2012, at 2:56 PM

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David Melson is a copy editor and staff writer for the Times-Gazette.