Once one of the most active stops for wood-burning locomotives, Lutz was settled with just a handful of homesteaders.
There was a store and a couple of houses there in 1907, and once the Tampa Northern Railroad was extended from Brooksville to Tampa that same year, the Concord Stagecoach Line went out of business.
But, that news didn’t discourage two brothers from West Virginia — William Paul Lutz and Charles Henry Lutz.
That’s because one of the largest sawmills in northwest Hillsborough County was the Gulf Pine Lumber Company — which was south of Odessa and owned by Charles Lutz.
In 1909, Charles Lutz built a tram track to carry his lumber 10 miles to the east, connecting his sawmill to the Tampa Northern Railroad at what is now Lutz Lake Fern Road and U.S. 41.
William Lutz — Charles’ brother — was the railroad engineer.
Most of the area was “nothin’ but sand,” according to the recollections of Dorothy Lutz Jones, stepdaughter of William Lutz.
“Then from there on to Tampa, there was nothin’ until you got there, down to the city,” Jones is quoted in an account published by local historian Susan A. MacManus, a professor at the University of South Florida.
MacManus and her mother, Elizabeth Riegler MacManus, wrote “Citrus, Sawmills, Critters and Crackers: Life in Early Lutz and Central Pasco County.
William Lutz is reported to have witnessed “strange events” as he engineered his train through such a remote countryside.
“It was not uncommon to come across public hangings and to see some unfortunate soul with his neck still in the noose,” the local history book notes.
According to his wife’s journal, William Lutz sold cars on the side and would take orders for a vehicle, and then strike one on the tracks with his locomotive.
“The railroad would pay for the damaged car, Lutz would buy it, have it repaired, and then sell it to his customer,” according to a published account.
William Lutz exhibited a better side of his nature to the family of Ella McDowell in December 1912. Ella had received a handwritten note thrown from the train by Lutz inviting her to ride with him to Tarpon Springs and spend Christmas with his family.
The year — 1912 — was also a memorable year for the local residents demanding their own post office.
That was largely because the investors of the North Tampa Land Company.
C.E. Thomas, the company’s president, had been busy marketing “…a vast settlement where folks could buy tracts of land to farm and raise orange groves,” according to the MacManus’ book.
Thomas would eventually build the new post office, and donate land for the wood-frame schoolhouse, cemetery and church. He even provided jobs with his nursery.
But, when postal officials named the new post office “Lutz” on March 27, 1912, they helped cement the memory of the contributions of the two Lutz brothers, in an area still generally known today as North Tampa.
Doug Sanders has a penchant for unearthing interesting stories about local history. His sleuthing skills have been developed through his experiences in newspaper and government work. If you have an idea for a future history column, contact Doug at .
Published November 9, 2016