Helper goes partly 'dry' for the first time, and doesn't like it
Even during Prohibition, there were ways to get booze in Helper. Stills and wine-presses and bootleggers stayed busy providing illicit alcohol to the thirsty miners and railroaders.
The underground activity is long gone, replaced by legitimate, state-approved bars and a package store. Now the package store has been closed because the operator has retired.
Helper - of all places - has been partly "dry" since January. The state Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control has indicated it is not looking for another operator.
This is not welcome news to the mayor and council of the self-proclaimed "Gateway to Castle Country," who have been pushing to promote the town as a tourist draw.
Even the city's Mining and Railroad Museum has taken part in the effort, recently opening an exhibit called "The Shady Side of Helper." It's an educational experience for visitors who might be interested in knowing what was going on in all those old hotels up until the mid-1970s.
City to send delegates
So the city officials decided last Thursday to send a delegation to the next meeting of the DABC on April 24. They will ask the agency to change its decision and allow the package store to reopen.
They'll be bringing a package of their own. Namely, information intended to persuade the state of the need for the store.
First of all, people outside city limits depend on it. That includes residents of Carbonville and Spring Glen. It's also closer to tourists in Scofield than Price. So while the town looks small, its effective population is larger.
The city has also been drawing up plans for a resurgence of its Main Street and river front. There's a new hotel in the works, said Mayor Dean Armstrong, and the council has been seriously considering a restoration of the river for kayaking and habitat enhancement.
One amenity that visitors may expect to find in a tourist town is a liquor store.