The Tule Princess is a very special vessel. Unique unto herself, she is indeed the last operational, full size Walking Beam Steam Engine, powering a Side Wheel Paddle Steamboat anywhere in the world. She is 37'10" LOA, has 15.5' Beam and propelled through the water by two paddle wheels each measuring 7 ft. in diameter.
David Sarlin of Sebastopol, Ca. designed and built the engine starting in 1982 from design specifications for a much larger walking beam engine aboard the steam ferry Sacramento, circa 1877. The hull was designed and built in 1983 by the Millerick Bros. Coast Marine Construction of Sebastopol, Ca. She was first launched on June 2, 1984 on the Sacramento River, just outside Petaluma, Ca. Following David's battle with cancer, she sat at her moorings for over a year. Faced with the prospect of selling or scraping her, the Sarlin Family accepted a purchase offer made by Capt. Ed Morris of Bay City, Mi. Capt. Morris, a former Great Lakes Ship's Captain, had her transported to Bay City, Mi. where he has operated and lovingly cared for her from 1997 to July, 2014.
Mack H Fox was living in Chicago and searching for a boat of his own to purchase when he first became aware of the Tule Princess in 1995. Unable to own and operate a vessel of that size and caliber at the time, Mack acquired a smaller 30 ft steam launch which he lovingly named the Doris Marie, after his mother. Mack operated the Doris Marie for two years along the shores of Lake Michigan in Chicago. Due to financial obligations, Mack eventually had to sell her.
In April 2013, while reading a monthly shipping journal, Mack became aware of a vessel named the Hiawatha (a.k.a. Tule Princess) for sale in Bay City, Michigan. Shortly thereafter, while spending a day at Lake Nasworthy with his mother Doris Fox, the spark of an idea to bring a paddle wheel steam boat to Lake Nasworthy was born.