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Click the play button above to view a brief history of Lofthus. View a transcript (PDF 20KB) of this video.

The iron-hulled barque Cashmere was built in Sunderland, England, by T.R. Oswald and launched on October 5, 1868. She was owned by the Liverpool Shipping Company and managed by H. Fernie & Sons. Constructed of riveted iron, the barque measured 222.8 feet in length, 36.7 feet in beam, and had a depth of hold of 22.7 feet. The ship was rated at 1,277 gross tons with two decks and one cemented bulkhead. Like other vessels of her kind, Cashmere was intended to travel the waters of the globe in order to make money for her owners; false gunports were painted along her sides to deter Sumatran and Javanese pirates. In 1897, Cashmere was sold to a Norwegian named Henschien, renamed Lofthus, and transferred to the American trade.

SS Copenhagen stranded on a reef

On February 4, 1898, while en route from Pensacola to Buenos Aires with a cargo of lumber, Lofthus was wrecked on the east coast of Florida. The local sea-going tug Three Friends (which usually was engaged in running guns to Cuba) attempted to assist the stranded barque, but she was high on the beach and quickly being pounded to pieces by waves. The crew of sixteen men was saved but the vessel was a total loss. While stranded on the beach, Lofthus' Captain Fromberg, traveling with his family, entertained local residents and gave the ship's dog and cat to one family.

After being stripped of all useable items, the wreck was sold along with 800,000 feet of lumber stowed in the hold for $1,000. In September 1898, the hull, which was not nearly as valuable as the cargo, was dynamited so that the lumber could be salvaged.