It’s a familiar sound to the Murrays, as logging has been in the family’s blood since 1911.
Lowell Thomas “Tom” Murray Jr., who died July 5 at 91, was known for taking over his father’s company, West Fork Timber, and expanding it to Murray Pacific, as well as for founding the Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad and Logging Museum.
As a young man, Murray earned an engineering degree from Yale and later a master’s degree from the University of Washington before launching his own logging business — the Silver Creek Logging Co. — in 1951.
He met and married his wife Cathy that same year. She died in 2011 at 82.
The family moved to Lakewood around 1954 and by 1956 the Murrays had three children: L.T. “Toby” Murray III, Elizabeth Murray and Jamie Murray.
In 1969, when L.T. Murray Sr. had a severe heart attack, Tom sold Silver Creek and took over his father’s company. At its height in the 1970’s, Murray Pacific had holdings in timber, exports, steel, salvage and more.
The diversity of investments is reflected in the passions of the company’s architect — a man whose favorite things, in no particular order, were fireworks, trains, fishing, telling stories and, of course, logging.
He died a day after he ensured his legendary annual fireworks show in Gravelly Lake was a success — he saw more than 40 of them through over the years.
“Growing up with a father, where his favorite things are fireworks and trains, is pretty cool,” Toby Murray told The News Tribune.
Two of the elder Murray’s passions — logging and trains — were combined in his passion project and now a top logging tourist attraction: the Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad and Logging Museum.
Steam-powered trains take visitors 14 miles from Elbe to the logging museum in Mineral, home to the world’s largest collection of steam logging locomotives.
“It was his dream to be able to display and/or operate those locomotives,” his son said.
The museum’s exhibits tell the stories of the Pacific Northwest railroad logging camps in the early- to mid-1900’s.
Murray also helped found the Camp 6 Logging Museum at Point Defiance, which closed in 2010 after 46 years in business.
Murray considered his greatest achievement to be the successful arbitration to take back the family’s ill-managed timberlands from the St. Regis Paper Co.
Today, Murray Pacific is purely an investment company managed by Toby Murray after it sold its timberland to Sierra Pacific in June 2015.
“The sale marks the end of Murray Pacific’s 104-year history in the timber business, and ensures that the timberland it has carefully managed for many decades goes to new owners with similar values,” the company announced that year.
CELEBRATION OF LIFE
A celebration of life service and reception for Tom Murray will be at 6 p.m. Aug. 8 at the Tacoma Country & Golf Club.