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July 11, 1921: Wooden legs save 2 from drowning

  • Blog Post by: Ben Welter
  • August 8, 2016 - 10:38 AM
 
Hildy! Get me rewrite! This front-page story is a confusing mess, one replicated by the Associated Press in versions appearing in a half dozen or so papers around the country. Despite the flawed description and a misspelled surname, the story line itself is plausible. Leroy Rodda, the accidental hero of the piece, lost both legs below the knees in a train accident at the Adams iron mine in Eveleth in 1910. According to family lore, he was trying to pull a drunk off the tracks when he was hit by a locomotive. After that accident, he took a job as a night watchman for the city of Eveleth, married and had three children. He and his wife built and ran Deer Horn Resort on Lake Kabetogama in the late 1930s.
 

Legless Man Swims
to Safety; Wooden
Limbs Save 2 Others


Gilbert, Minn., July 10. – While Harry Woodard, a good swimmer, was drowning, Roy Rhodda, minus his two wooden legs which became loosened when a boat occupied by five men overturned, swam 300 yards to shore. The three others in the boat also swam to safety.

The drowning took place in Ely lake near here this afternoon during a log rolling contest. The five men rowed out in the boat to gain a point of vantage. When they dropped a heavy anchor overboard the boat began filling with water. All of the men jumped into the lake and started for the shore. Woodard swam 50 yards and sank while 2,500 persons looked on. His body was recovered three hours later.

William Brown, Eveleth; Leslie Star, New London, Wis., and W.J. Ulrich, Duluth, were the three others in the boat. Rhodda told witnesses that two of his companions utilized the floating wooden legs as life preservers.

© 2016 Star Tribune