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La Salle Historic Reconstruction of the Griffon
The Griffon means a mythical creature which has a lion's body with the wings of an eagle and is predominantly pale brown in colour. Her first voyage was in 1679 with 32 men on board en route to Green Bay which is on Lake Michigan. Some of the crew were said to be scoundrels and scholars, saints and sinners, schemers and whisky traders. The crew were not very fond of La Salle as he did not treat his men very well. It was not uncommon of him to forget that he had to pay them.
The Griffon left Lake Erie and had a hard time finding Long Point, but eventually the fog cleared and the dangerous sand cape was made visible. La Salle sailed on to Lake Huron and stopped for a short time at Michilimackinac and then made his way through the tangle of islands in Upper Lake Michigan. La Salle and his crew felt relieved to arrive safely at Green Bay. The ship was loaded with beaver pelts and La Salle gave orders to six of his crew members to sail back to Niagara to pay his creditors. They were ordered to return with materials to build another vessel for him to use while exploring the Mississippi River.
Sketch of the Griffon being built. Painting of Griffon
On September 18, 1679, with her pilot and five sailors, the Griffon weighed anchor and spread her sails out onto the broad waters of Lake Erie. It is believed that a gale swept the lake, and the Griffon perished with all hands. Some say that the crew turned traitor and sold the cargo of precious furs. She simply vanished without a trace as though she had never existed. The fate of the Griffon remained a mystery for over three centuries. While his crew gone, La Salle waited at Peoria, Illinois the spot where he intended to build his next ship. The Griffon remains a mystery that has caught the attention of history enthusiasts for centuries.
Map of La Salle's Explorations