Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Lorenz Family

Carl and Louise Lorenz and their children, Edward, Otto, Meta and Oscar, homesteaded in Lakebay in the early part of 1870s after spending a year in San Francisco and Seattle following their departure from Hamburg, Germany.  Carl was a carpenter and built some houses in Seattle.
 Crew of the Tyrus

One of the first things they did shortly after arrival on the peninsula was to purchase Dead Man’s Island.   (Cutt's Island) They used the island for summer excursions.

After settling in Lakebay, Carl logged and established a water-driven sawmill that mainly produced lumber for the local community. Excess lumber was sold in Tacoma, and in order to deliver it Carl built a large scow powered by long oars. He had not reckoned with the winds and tidal currents through The Narrows or off Point Defiance. His first and only trip with the scow took three weeks.

As a result, Carl designed and built Sophia - the first boat in their fleet which eventually included Meta (named after their daughter who died quite young), Tyconda, Typhoon (I), Tyrus, Typhoon (II), Thurow, Sentinel, and Arcadia.

Sophia was a 42-foot tug named for his mother, still living in Germany, and launched in 1884. Even though the tug lacked accommodations and passengers had to climb over various pieces of lumber, it provided a needed passenger service.  The Lorenz’ sold the tug in 1890 to Frank Bibbins.

Meta was built in 1888 and was 58 feet. It replaced the Sophia, providing better accommodation for the growing Tacoma-Henderson Bay route. Meta was sold in 1898 and was replaced by the 114-foot Typhoon (1) which was built in Portland and went to Grays Harbor in 1890. The Lorenz family purchased the steamer in 1894. It was completely rebuilt before starting on the route, which included Tacoma, Hales Passage, Carr Inlet, and Henderson Bay and was skippered by Edward Lorenz. It was sold in 1903 to Matthew McDowell for the East Pass.     

The Tyconda was the only stern-wheeler owned by the family. With its shallow draft, it could land close to shore, making it easier to transfer freight at Cromwell, Sylvan, Warren, Arletta, Lakebay, and Vaughn. It also made it much easier to board passengers. The Tyconda was also used on excursions sponsored by the Lorenz’ for their annual outings to Fox Island (known as Batil Merman by the natives before the settlers arrived) and Shelton.  It was sold in 1914 for use in Alaska and burned in 1915.

The Lorenz family added the Tyrus to their fleet in 1904. The 108-foot steamer received her machinery from Typhoon (1) but in 1906 got a new triple-expansion engine. Tyrus ran three times a week, then daily, to stops on Case and Carr Inlets. It was sold in 1918 to Nels Christensen and renamed Virginia IV.
Typhoon (I)

Named for their mother’s German hometown, the 45-foot Thurow was built in 1918 with a unique pilothouse control of a gas engine. Because of varying problems, the boat was refitted with traditional steam. Ed’s friend Bert Berntson was captain in 1919. Eventually it became too small to handle the business and was sold in 1927.

Captains Ed Lorenz and Bert Berntson contracted with Mojean Ericson Shipyard in Tacoma to build the 99-foot Arcadia in 1928. It was able to carry 275 passengers and 100 tons of freight and made stops at Home, Arletta, Anchorage, Warren, Sunnybay, Cromwell, Sylvan, Wollochet, Cedrona, and Tacoma. They sold her in 1941 to the McNeil Island Federal Penitentiary which changed the name and used the steamer for another 15 years.
 Capt. Ed Lorenz
All three Lorenz boys had boating careers. Edward was a captain, Oscar and Otto were engineers. Edward was best known on the water as Capt. Ed and at one time or another skippered all the family’s boats. He died in 1941, Otto died in 1943; Oscar never married and was living at the Jefferson House Nursing Home when interviewed at age 99 for the TNT Tacoma Tradewinds column, December 24, 1975, written by Bruce Johnson. Oscar was an engineer on a freighter to South America as well as fish-packer vessels in Alaska during summers. Otto married late in life and had no children; Edward married Christine Gilbertson from Glencove and they had two sons and two daughters.

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