In July 2016, the Black family kindly donated a ten foot high anchor to the Port Ludlow community. The historical anchor comes from one of the notorious hell ships – the Reaper.
The Reaper caught fire and burned out in Ludlow Bay almost 110 years to the day – July 21, 1906. The boat had caught fire at the Port Ludlow mill dock and after burning overnight, her lines were cut and she was taken to the other side of the bay and burned out. At low tide you can see glimpses of the Reaper’s remains.
In the late 1800s, Port Ludlow was known for its excellent ship building facilities. The Puget Sound Mill Company was in charge of construction of three masters, ten two-masted schooners, and the Kitsap barkentine. The Hall Brothers built approximately 31 vessels in Port Ludlow, many for the Puget Sound Mill Company.
Hell ships, like the Reaper, were known as ships with poor living conditions or had a reputation of treating the crew callously. During this time in Port Ludlow and Port Townsend “shanghaiing” was somewhat routine. When a ship was lacking in crew members, the merchants would send runners to brothels and bars along the waterfront and force them to work upon the boat.
Flash forward to the 1960s, when two members of the Black family were scuba diving in Ludlow Bay, discovered the Reaper’s anchor and retrieved it. It sat as an amazing historical relic at their family home prior to the family donating this unique piece of Port Ludlow history to the community.
The anchor is now displayed at the Port Ludlow Marina for visitors and locals alike to enjoy and learn more about the history of the hell ships and boat building in Port Ludlow.
Written by: Kaitlin Chester