A few people wondered where the Pokey Moonshine name originated.

Surfing the web led to many interesting side paths.

So, read on for the convoluted path to the origins of Pokey Moonshine.

Original Website where I saw the article. It has details on finding the waterfall:



Here’s the Definition of Moonshine:

  1. Moonlight.
  2. Informal. Foolish talk or thought; nonsense.
  3. Illegally distilled whiskey. Also called white lightning.

Moonshine refs on Television:

·         Granny from the 1960s television series The Beverly Hillbillies runs a moonshine still by the Clampett family swimming pool (also referred to as the "cement pond") and refers to the product as rheumatism medicine and as an ingredient in her "spring tonic" and claims to drink only a thimbleful at a time. Several subplots of the show's episodes focused on a humorous situation involving Granny's liquor. Every cast member of The Beverly Hillbillies was seen drinking moonshine at one point in time during the show's history. It was also used occasionally to power the family truck, though Uncle Jed felt it was hard on the engine.


  • Otis Campbell was the town drunk on The Andy Griffith Show. Deputy Barney Fife was always trying to find the source of Otis' moonshine.
  • The Waltons featured the elderly spinster Baldwin sisters, who, in memory of their dear departed father, keep alive the knowledge of "The Recipe." Unbenownst to them, their father was a bootlegger, and the concoction they lovingly produce from "The Recipe" is in fact moonshine whiskey.


Pokey Definition:

 Slang., pl. -keys also -kies.  A jail or prison.[Origin unknown.]


So you might conclude that Pokey Moonshine came from “If you make the moonshine you’ll wind up in the pokey!”

Let’s dig some more…


Poke Definition:

Etymology: perhaps modification of Virginia Algonquian pocone, poughkone puccoon

Date: 1708

1 a: a quick thrust or jab, 2: a projecting brim on the front of a woman's bonnet, 3: a cutting remark : dig

Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French

Date: 13th century

1. chiefly Southern & Midland : bag or sack

2. wallet or purse

How about Pig in a Poke?

Can you please tell me what the phrase "pig in a poke" is supposed to mean? My mother has used it my whole life and she doesn't even know what it means.

Well, your mother must have some idea what "pig in a poke" means, mustn't she? I mean, she doesn't use it as an all-purpose expression of amazement ("Pig in a poke! That's a good cup of coffee!") or, conversely, a scathing epithet ("That Muriel, she's a real little pig in a poke."). My guess is that she knows that "to buy a pig in a poke" means, as the Oxford English Dictionary puts it, "to buy anything without seeing it or knowing its value." Your mother probably just doesn't know what a "poke" is, or what a pig would be doing in one.

That's not surprising, given how rarely one sees a "poke" these days. The "poke" in "pig in a poke" is an archaic word for "bag" or "sack." When you went to market hundreds of years ago, you'd most likely come home with your purchases in such a "poke" -- not one of those filmy and annoying things you get at supermarkets today, but a proper sack, made of burlap or canvas or the like. Since merchants at the farmers' markets of 14th century Europe varied in their honesty, a smart shopper would be careful to check the poke he was handed to be sure that it really contained what he had paid for. Such caution was especially important in the case of "big ticket" purchases such as a live suckling pig, since unscrupulous merchants were not above substituting a stray cat of the appropriate weight for the pig in the poke handed to an unwary purchaser. The phrase "don't buy a pig in a poke" -- originally purely practical advice for 14th century shoppers -- eventually came to be used as a warning applicable to any situation in which we are asked to accept an unfamiliar object or idea on faith.

By the way, can you guess what other common phrase came from the moment when the dishonest merchant's ruse was revealed and the unlucky buyer learned the true nature of his purchase? That's right -- "letting the cat out of the bag."

Hmmm, maybe Pokey Moonshine came from the definition of Poke as a sack or bag and Moonshine meaning foolish talk or nonsense – a “Sack of Nonsense”.


Surfin’ and googlin’ some more:

Gumby & Pokey:

Gumby and Pokey

And two gamer’s Pokey:

Pac-Man: Competitors and distributors were taken completely by surprise by Pac-Man's success in North America in 1980. Marketing executives who saw Pac-Man at a trade show prior to release completely overlooked the game (along with the now classic Defender), while they looked to a racing car game called Rally-X as the game to outdo that year.[13] The appeal of Pac-Man was such that the game caught on immediately with the public; it quickly became far more popular than anything seen in the game industry before. Pac-Man outstripped Asteroids as the greatest selling arcade game of the time, and would go on to sell over 350,000 units. The Pokey ghost is more commonly known as Clyde.

Super-Mario: A Pokey is a cactus monster that is composed of three to five spherical body segments. To defeat a Pokey, typically each body section must be destroyed. Pokeys, like Shy Guys and Bob-ombs, originate from the non-Mario game Doki Doki Panic, which later became Super Mario Bros. 2.



How about the Hokey Pokey:  North America children's dance: a dance in which a circle of people, especially children, sing out instructions for movements that they perform at the same time. Also slang for ice cream.

A song rendered "with appropriate gestures" by two Canterbury sisters while on a visit to Bridgewater, N.H. in 1857 starts thus:

I put my right hand in, I put my right hand out,

I give my right hand a shake, shake shake And I turn myself about.

As the song continues, the "left hand" is put in, then the "right foot," then the "left foot," then "my whole head."

...Newell gave it the title, "Right Elbow In," and said that is was danced " deliberately and decorously...with slow rhythmical motion."

In England it is called the Hokey-Cokey. According to Beth Ann Hughes "hokey cokey" comes from "hocus pocus", the traditional magician's incantation which in its turn derives from a distortion of hoc enim est corpus meum - "this is my body" - the words of consecration accompanying the elevation of the host at Eucharist, the point, at which according to traditional Catholic practice, transubstantiation takes place - mocked by Puritans and others as a form of "magic words". The Anglican Canon Matthew Damon, Provost of Wakefield Cathedral, West Yorkshire, says that the dance as well comes from the Catholic Latin mass. The priest would perform his movements with his back to the congregation, who could not hear well the Latin words nor see clearly his movements.


Another take on Hokey-Pokey:

Italian immigrants were grossly exploited labour, often lodged in poor conditions and paid little; during the winter they often worked as hurdy-gurdy men. Every morning in summer they cranked and froze the ice cream mix they had made the previous night, and went their rounds in London, Glasgow, Manchester, and other growing industrial cities crying, 'Gelati, ecco un poco!' It is thought to be because of their cry that ice-cream vendors were called 'hokey pokey men' and the ice cream they sold 'hokey pokey', a term which became common also in America. , the number of ice cream vendors called Hokey-Pokey Men, exploded in the large cities. The term "Hokey Pokey" presumably evolved from the cry that the Italian vendors hawked their cheap ice cream, although what this originally was is not known. There have been several suggestions: a corruption of "Ecce, Ecce" Ecco, Ecco (here) (Look, Look); a derivation of "Hocus Pocus;" a corruption of "Ecco un poco" (Italian for Here’s a little), the Italian "O'che poco" (Oh how little) - the last one being a reference to price, rather than the quantity, which gives it the most plausibility. Hokey-pokey actually referred to cheap ice cream or ice milk. In general, they sold delicious ice cream, even though their standards of sanitation were quite low. On a hot summer day in the city, there were swarms of children surrounding the ice cream vendors. Following is the catchy, nonsense phrase that was popular with the street vendors or Hokey-pokey men:   http://www.recipesource.com/desserts/ice-cream/01/rec0110.html

"Hokey-pokey, pokey ho. Hokey-pokey, a penny a lump. Hokey-pokey, find a cake; hokey-pokey on the lake. Here's the stuff to make your jump;

Hokey-pokey, penny a lump. Hokey-pokey, sweet and cold; For a penny, new or old."


Or Hokey-Pokey Elmo:

Hokey Spokes, totally cool, dude:


Different spelling of Hokey:

A Hokie in Virginia Tech is the bird mascot. The word, which originated from the Old Hokie spirit yell, penned in 1896, is often used interchangeably with "Fighting Gobblers" to refer to sports teams, fans, students, or alumni. For your added enjoyment, here's the Old Hokie cheer:
Hoki, Hoki, Hoki, Hy. Techs, Techs, V.P.I. Sola-Rex, Sola-Rah. Polytechs - Vir-gin-ia. Rae, Ri, V.P.I.

Finally, A Real Live “Pokey Moonshine” Citation:
Excerpt from this website:   http://www.bytown.net/manotickstation.htm
When I first began researching my ancestors, people would tell me that Manotick 
Station was a great exporter of tea to the United States. I couldn't figure this out. 
Tea in Canada? It turns out that the village of Manotick Station was known as the 
"Pokey Moonshine Settlement" and, during prohibition in the USA, "tea" was sent 
to the US from here. Also, J. Edgar Hoover was a visitor to the Manotick Station 
area in the 1920's. 

I think we are getting closer to the origin:

Princeton is a town in Washington County, incorporated on February 3, 1832 from Plantation T17 ED, BPP. It later ceded some land to Baileyville in 1847.

The town encompasses most of Pocomoonshine Lake
, located in Maine, the origins of whose fascinating name is unclear.

The Passamaquoddy Indian Reservation is located just north of the main village in Indian Township on U.S. Route 1, which continues its northward trek from Calais, through Woodland and Princeton.



OK, as I suspected I bet it’s derived from an Indian place name:

Camp Pok-o-Moonshine in the Adirondacks near Mount. Pok-o-Moonshine.



History of Camp Pok-o-Moonshine:


Dr. Charles Alexander Robinson founded Camp Pok-O-Moonshine for boys in 1905.  In it's earliest years, the camp served as a setting for both summer education and recreation.  From the beginning, a loyal and enthusiastic staff and campers from around the world helped camp to thrive.

The camp was named after a nearby mountain with sheer cliffs, Poke-O-Moonshine, from an Algonquin word meaning “Pohqui” (broken) and “Moosi” (smooth). 

Boat Docks, 1918The Boating Docks, circa 1918.

The camp prospered under Dr. Robinson's tutelage and in the 1940s his daughter, Sarah Robinson Swan and her husband, Col . H.T. Swan, assumed the reins and set about the task of expanding Camp Pok-O-Moonshine.  Under their guidance, the camp continued to prosper and grew considerably in acreage.  Their son, Jack, took over as director of camp in 1963.

Under the direction of Jack Swan, the camp has expanded enormously.  In 1967, Camp MacCready opened for girls.  Named for former staff member David MacCready, the camp started out with just 32 girls.  By the end of the 1970s, the two camps had fully merged to become known as Pok-O-MacCready Camps , with over 300 campers annually. 

Many other changes have occurred since camp’s inception. In the 1970s, the Pok-O-MacCready Outdoor Education Center and the 1812 Homestead were formed, enabling camp to operate as a year-round facility.

Throughout the camp’s long history, the driving force has been the enthusiastic leadership of one family. While Jack continues to act as camp advisor, Jack's children, Margaret, Sharpe, and David serve as Assistant Directors for various summer and year-round operations.  In addition, several 4th and 5th- generation descendants of the Robinson-Swan family are campers and counselors, continuing to uphold the tradition of the world's oldest private camp under one family's direction.

Here’s a link to photos of the sheer cliffs of Mount Poke-O-Moonshine:


So, I would conclude that Pokey-Moonshine is a kiddie kludge of Poke-O-Moonshine from the Indian words for broken and smooth.



From: Onno Kluyt [mailto:onno@onno.com]
Sent: Wednesday, January 30, 2008 6:54 PM
To: rbcultra@topica.com
Cc: rbc-list@topica.com; fast-friends@googlegroups.com
Subject: RE: rbc-list: rbcultra: Pokey-Moonshine Road


What a funny story!


How did you stumble upon it?

And, is ride 91 or ride 39 scheduled for this year!?




On Jan 30, 2008, at 2:53 PM, Mark Frank wrote:


What a great article in the New York Times from 1952!

Pokey-Moonshine Road is on the Lima – Wayland ride #91 and Springwater – Wayland ride #39.

Sunday, June 8, 1952

There is, Too, a Pokey-Moonshine Falls

By Bill Cartwright

Rochester, How do you lose a waterfall? Where does it go? What happens to it? And how do you go about finding it again? These are just a few of the questions which have been facing this correspondent recently. And the problem, I can assure you, is a tough one.

It all started a couple of years ago when in connection with a story I wrote on outstanding waterfalls in western New York State, I mentioned Pokey-Moonshine Fails near Dansville, which I had visited some years earlier. The story appeared in the Travel Section, and I forgot it until a letter arrived from the Institute for Advanced Research at Princeton University. A reader there noted that he had read my story while in the Pokey-Moonshine area and decided to take a look at the falls but nobody in the vicinity knew the location. He had asked farmer, stopped at gasoline stations inured of chance acquaintance and come up against a blank wall. Was there, he asked, really Pokey-Moonshine Falls after all? That didn’t faze me. After all I’d been there. What’s more, I had seen a color picture of the falls in a New York State booklet just a few weeks before. Writing to the puzzled reader I referred to the booklet, described my own visit and suggested that he get touch with the state for further information.

Persistent Inquiry

Very shortly another letter arrived from Princeton. The state, so my reader informed me, had tried. They had looked, burrowed through files and flopped. They couldn’t tell him who had taken the picture, or where the falls were located. But, they assured him there were such falls. Definitely.

My reader’s persistence amazed me. He reported that he was writing to Chambers of Commerce at Dansville and near-by towns. He subsequently wrote me that such inquiries had drawn a blank. But, he was going to keep trying. Some of his wife’s relatives lived in the, vicinity and when he visited them he would continue his search. I began to envision an endless; quest. So I called up the people who had introduced us to Pokey-Moonshine on that long ago picnic. Could they tell me, please, just how to find the spot. Well, they said, you drive through a village, went a mile or two, turned off on a dirt road, plunged down into a little clump of woods, passed over a rustic bridge and there you were. Just beyond the bridge a little turn-off to the left led down to a slight drop and a grassy spot where you could park your car. A clean, clear bubbling brook raced past. And, there on the shore of the brook, someone had built a rustic cabin many years before. Its walls were made from flat stones and mortar. The roof was beamed with railroad rails and made solid with stones and mortar. There was a big fireplace on the outside, and a slab and mortar stone table and several benches.

Difference of Opinion

Yes, we agreed, it was one of the prettiest little spots we had ever visited. But our friends were in complete disagreement as to its whereabouts. The husband claimed it was near this spot. The wife was sure it was nearer that! We reported back to our reader, and vowed to make the trip ourselves again someday, and, of course, pass on our findings. We saw ourselves tossing a contemptuous forelock at Albany, sneering collectively at Chambers of Commerce, and striding off in the wilderness, puttees cocked rakishly, and the phrase, "Pokey-Moonshine, I presume," ready behind clenched lips.

But time crept up on us. There were things to do around the house, and the weather was never right. But then we made a mistake and mentioned the situation to our editor, who replied, "Go find Pokey-Moonshine Falls. Will take story as soon as you can get it." So we called our friends again. Could they give us general directions, conflicting though might be? "Go down the road between Wayland and Dansville," they advised, "and explore the little roads that run off to the north. It should be somewhere in the general area around there." So one morning the car rolled. It was lovely driving south fromRochester along Route 15A. The flatlands soon gave way to the hills. And the hills shaped themselves into the beautiful countryside so typical of thisFinger Lakes region. Our car rose to the heights above the east shore of Hemlock Lake. It dipped down into Springwater and ran through the pretty fields approaching Wayland. At Wayland we turned west on Routes 63 and 245, and the zest of the chase began. We ran up the road about two miles. The countryside started to look familiar. We turned up one country road, drove a couple of miles, and decided that wasn’t it. We backtracked, turned west again, and found ourselves heading downhill into the outskirts of Dansville. We backtracked again and looked things over more carefully. And, then we spotted what seemed to be a private lane. But it wasn’t. We turned into it and drove up the little dirt road. A clump of woods appeared and we began to feel hopeful. And as the road turned and plunged downhill into a wilderness of unspoiled forest we suddenly felt quite sure.  In less than two minutes we came to the bridge over the creek. In less than three minutes the car was parked in the glade beside the brook. And there it was. The little stone and mortar house with its big outside fireplace was still standing. The rough slab picnic table and benches were still in their old place And the brook tumbled and raced clear and sparkling as before down through the forest.

Down to the Falls

We climbed from the car. I left my wife to take care of our small ones and pushed my way through the woods beside the brook, downstream some four or five hundred feet. The noise of the falls came to me again. I took off my shoes and waded through the brook, climbed around and over a little knoll, and then saw my waterfall. It’s still a beauty. The brook at that point spreads out, drops over a little cascade, and, without pausing, it splashes out and down and down. The falls are about thirty feet wide and seventy-five feet high, and they are beautiful, well worth seeking out and enjoying. If you didn’t know how to find them and didn’t know they were there, you could go through life never guessing, never knowing. But, now that you know, you ought to take a look at them. They’re quite a sight.

This is the way to get there: go to Wayland, N. Y., and start at the traffic light at Main and Maples Streets. Drive west on Routes 63 and 245 for 3.2 miles toward Dansville. At that point, running off to the north, or right, there is a little dirt road. It has no name, and about the only way you can identify it is by a sign that advises travelers that Peter’s Cabins are located some seventeen miles ahead.  Turn north on that road, and in about four-tenths of a mile you’ll come to the rude bridge that arches Pokey-Moonshine’s flood. You can take it from there. Bill Cartwright