Doghole Port: Stillwater Cove
An 1880 history of Salt Point Township relates that Christian Friedrich Ruoff was one of the early settlers at Stillwater Cove, arriving there by the fall of 1851. Mr. Ruoff died in 1854 shortly after his wife, Francesca, and three children joined him on the property. Francesca assumed the family’s leadership and built a lumber chute there by the late 1860s along with a private elementary school that she ran into the 1870s.
Stillwater Cove’s very small but sheltered anchorage meant that the single chute on the cove’s northwest side could be used year-round. This chute loaded small schooners with cord wood, posts, railroad ties, and tan bark for San Francisco. While there was never a town located at Stillwater Cove, the doghole port was active shipping out 249 wood loads between 1868 and 1874.
Today, the remains of Stillwater Cove’s lumber chute are on private property. The 2016 Doghole Ports Survey team was fortunate to meet the owners who graciously permitted them access to their property. The private residence at this location occupies the same position as the lumber chute, and its construction obscured many of the upland features of the loading apparatus except for the access trails. These are now used as the residence’s driveways. The foreshore port features at Stillwater Cove are consistent with those at other locations and included iron ring bolts, pins, and wire rope. In addition to the hardware, numerous rebates in the cliffside rocks for the chute support legs provided information on the chute’s arrangement as no illustrations or photographs of the chute have been uncovered.
-- Deborah Marx, Maritime Archaeologist, Maritime Heritage Program, Office of National Marine Sanctuaries