F is for Fire Engine

Pope County Museum A-Z is a continuing feature of our blog. Each week, I will highlight an item or items from our Museum collection.

This week’s item is the Waterous – Horse Drawn – Steam Powered Fire Engine used by the Lowry Fire Department

This fire engine was purchased by the Village of Lowry in 1889. It was secondhand but in very good condition. It was used until about 1924 when it was replaced with a gasoline operated engine.

Although it is on wheels, it was primarily left in the fire hall under a funnel which conveyed the smoke to a chimney. Hoses were run from the fire hall to the fire. It can pump 1,400 gallons of water per minute through four outlets.

One of the most exiting uses of the engine was in July of 1905 when the Lowry Company answered what was the first “mutual aid call” on record.

A huge fire broke out in Glenwood on South Franklin Street and the Glenwood firefighters quickly discovered that the usual water supply in the reservoir at the water works so low, the hydrants could not produce enough water pressure to extinguish the fire.  Without water the battle against the spread of the flames became an uneven one. Thus the call for help was sent out. The Lowry Fire Company responded “with its usual alacrity”. This pumper was loaded on a railroad flat car and hauled to Glenwood where it was set up near Lake Minnewaska and soon the flames were extinguished.

Sadly, in the rush and excitement of getting the Waterous started down by the lake, proper precautions were not taken to keep sand from being drawn into the pumper. The valves and pistons were badly scored and had to be replaced at considerable expense.      

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