October 14, 1930

Wooden boat at dock. A Canadian ship loaded with illegal alcohol clashed with the U.S. Coast Guard near the Nantucket lightship in 1930. The rumrunner was anchored near the vessel, but still outside the jurisdiction of the Coast Guard. Nonetheless, the Coast Guard patrol boat pulled in close to the ship’s stern to prevent smugglers with shore boats (like the one pictured here) from taking on cargo.

The captain, angered by this, turned his boat to face the patrol boat and ran on deck screaming curses and challenging the Coast Guardsmen to a shootout.

The Coast Guard crew members responded by setting up a machine gun on their deck and aiming it at the captain. The two boats spent the rest of the day in a standoff. At nightfall, the Coast Guard destroyer Casson took over and kept a searchlight on the rumrunner as it left and headed north.


Excerpted from On This Day In Nantucket History
By Amy Jenness
The History Press
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The Nantucket Historical Association preserves and interprets the history of Nantucket through its programs, collections, and properties, in order to promote the island’s significance and foster an appreciation of it among all audiences.

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