On this date in 1915, the Santa Ana Register ran a short story with the provocative headline, “SEAL BEACH TO INCORPORATE AND BE WET?”
Seal Beach’s incorporation by election was just a little over three months away, and rumors were floating that table liquor licenses would be granted by the newly incorporated city. Temperance workers from Long Beach, a dry town, planned to reach out to dry workers in Orange County to prevent Seal Beach.
New Years Eve celebrants in the freshly incorporated Seal Beach were forced to ring in the new year of 1916 in a sober state, and the wet/dry conflict would continue to play out throughout 1916. Ultimately serving demon alcohol was too enticing and lucrative for Seal Beach, and the city went wet (to the relief of Long Beach non-abstainers who enjoyed nipping on over to Seal Beach cafes for a nip or two or three or five.)
When the Volstead Act prohibited alcohol to the entire nation, Seal Beach became a prime spot for bootleggers and rum runners with local landmarks the pier, Anaheim Landing, and Alamitos Bay looming large in liquor smuggling legends and tall tales.
– Michael Dobkins