WOODRUFF, L.C. (1866, Barkentine) US14609 1866 - 1878

WOODRUFF RIBS IN 1975 CONSTRUCTION AND OWNERSHIP Built at: Buffalo, NY Vessel Type: Barkentine Hull Materials: Wood Number of Decks: 1 Builder Name: Francis Nelson Jones Original Owner and Location: N.C. Winslow & B.S. Wolvin, Buffalo, New York Ownership Notes: Enrolled Buffalo POWER Number of Masts: 3

DIMENSIONS Length: 170' Beam: 33' Depth: 12.6' Tonnage (old style): 630 Tonnage (gross): 548.90 Capacity: 27000 bushels FINAL DISPOSITION Final Location: 1 mile north of White Lake Harbor, Lake Michigan Date: 1 Nov 1878 Final Depth: 13 feet How: Ashore, dragged anchor in storm Final Cargo: 33,500 bushels corn Notes: 3 lives lost


1870, May Collision with barque GLENBULAH near Long Point, Lake Erie 1873, October 31 Ashore 10 miles below Port Burwell, Lake Erie; owned, N.C. Winslow & Company 1873-74 Repaired 1876 Owned Vosburgh & B., Buffalo, New York 1878, November 1 Ashore, Whitehall, Michigan, Lake Michigan; owned Thomas F. Murphy, Cleveland, Ohio

1942, 1975, 2018 Wreckage has reappeared on beach south of White Lake Channel

The L. C. Woodruff was a wooden barkentine sailing vessel with three masts as shown in the drawing below. She was built in 1866 and was registered at 548 tons gross weight. She was owned by the Murphy Company of Cleveland, Ohio and was valued at $15,000.

Story of the sinking and Rescue

Snippets taken from - Wreck of the Woodruff by Thomas Tag

The rescue occurred near the White River Light Station, on Lake Michigan, on October 31, 1878, when the bark Woodruff, on a trip from Chicago to her home port of Buffalo, New York with a cargo of corn, ran into trouble on the western side of Lake Michigan near Milwaukee, and drifted across the lake in some of the worst weather seen on the lake in many years. A terrible gale with high waves forced many ships to seek shelter all across Lake Michigan. By 8 p.m. that night, the Woodruff was lying at anchor about one-half mile off the eastern shore of Lake Michigan near the White River Light Station and the entrance to White Lake. A tug went out from White Lake to check her condition and found her severely damaged with her sails split, fore-topmast, jib-boom and bowsprit gone. The tug captain wanted the crew to leave the rapidly deteriorating Woodruff, but her captain, still thinking he could save the vessel, would have none of it, and refused to allow the crew to leave.

By 4 a.m. the next day, the storm had worsened and the Woodruff’s anchor began dragging with the vessel slowly drifting in-shore. At 9 a.m., the bark’s mizzen-mast and main topmast fell into the raging sea. She continued to drift toward shore, struck bottom in about 13 feet of water, and began to break up several hundred yards offshore from the White River Light Station. The captain and crew could not get off the ship due to the severe waves, and climbed into the rigging in an attempt to save themselves.

By 9:20 am, the Woodruff’s anchor chain parted and the vessel drifted about one-half mile further north from the light station. Three attempts were made by Keeper Robinson and a group of local men to reach the stricken ship in a small yawl, but each time the yawl was swamped before reaching the Woodruff.

The Woodruff was loaded with corn and after the lake water totally filled her, the corn expanded and burst open her hull, breaking the ship in two. Her captain and remaining five crewmen fell from the rigging into the lake water, grabbing for anything that would float. The captain and three of the crewmen found floating debris and drifted to shore, some distance to the north. The last two men failed to find floating debris, and drowned.

In 1942, November 1974 and December 2018, the badly damaged ribs and keel of what may be the remains of the Woodruff washed up near the shore close to the White River Light Station.

Other Online Information

woodruff.txt · Last modified: 2018/12/13 12:24 by tom
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