I spoke with a ranger at Philpott Dam the other day and received a great tip on an old moonshine still site near the base of the dam. I followed his directions, which led me along the main trail. I couldn’t locate the still, and I believe the directions might have been off, so I decided to just strike out on my own.
From the top of the dam I bushwhacked down through a hollow until I hit a small creek. Almost immediately I found an old moonshine still. The still I found was typical of most of the ones I’ve been finding. It looked like a submarine still and the remains had ax marks from the revenuers.
The interesting thing about this creek is that, as I followed it down to the base of the dam, it disappeared. The creek went dry, and presumably flowed under the dry creek bed, until it repapered further down the hollow. It did this several times before reaching the bottom and flowing into the Smith River.
From a moonshiner’s perspective, this is a great place to locate a still. All of the moonshine stills I’ve been finding were located right along a creek. If I were a revenue agent, trying to find a moonshine operation, I would simply walk up creeks and streams until I found a still. You need water to run a still, so there is much less chance of finding one in a dry area. A revenue agent might give up the hunt once the creek went dry. A sly still operator would have a better chance of hiding his still in a hollow like this one where the water disappeared and then reappeared further up the creek