Major Kinney arrived on the Steamship Elder in 1897. He joined the Arctic Brotherhood and built a bridge over the Taiya River. He had the “Chilkoot Tramway Company” one of several companies that built tramways up the Chilkoot Trail. He later platted the little town of Atlin.
Born on this day, August 26, 1855 in Jacksonville, New Brunswick, Canada he moved around quite a bit. After leaving Alaska he moved to North Bend Oregon.
Sight unseen, Lorenzo singled out Coos Bay as a development plum ripe for the picking. Coos Bay was already a burgeoning seaport with lumber, shipbuilding and fishing as solid economic foundations.
Kinney was fresh from failures in Alaska and Canada, and had no money. Still, Kinney had rich friends and an intense personality plus a persuasive speaking style that readily secured money and credit. From 1902 to 1914, he was Coos Bay’s chief promoter and pitchman or “instigator,” as he preferred to be called. He was a man with a prolific capacity for words and whose name was a household word around Coos Bay. But by any measure, Kinney fit the category “odd.”
According to a posting on genforum, he was something of a rogue and spent time in the Oregon State Mental Hospital: Diagnosis: manic-depression. He died there of pneumonia on Aug. 9, 1920.
The book “Instigator: The Troubled Life of Lorenzo Dow Kinney”, 2008, by Richard and Judith Wagner chronicles Kinney’s life. It reviews his beginning in New Brunswick his time in Virginia, Utah, Alaska, British Columbia and focuses on his years 1902-1914 on the Coos Bay in Oregon where he promoted railroads, streetcars and land.
Picture above is of a Tram on the Chilkoot Trail, possibly his.
1900 census; National Park Service Dyea info; genforum Kinney family; Minter; Oregonlive article by John Terry from October 30, 2009.