Marietta, NY

Marietta's Antique Fire Wagon May Be One of Only Five Remaining from 1870s

DeanLand

Just a short walk from Marietta’s historic square and tucked away inside Fire Station No. 1, the Marietta Fire Museum holds a treasure trove of artifacts. That includes a 1870s vintage Silsby Steamer fire fighting wagon, purchased by the City of Marietta in 1879 and which remained in service through 1921.

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This 1879 Silsby Steamer, part of the Marietta Fire Museum, is believed to be one of only five remaining units.Photo: DeanLand / Our Travel Cafe

This historic apparatus, fully restored in 1992, is believed to be one of only five remaining in existence, according to Marietta Fire Department publications.

Firefighting historians generally acknowledge that the Silsby Steamer was the innovation that created modern fire departments. Prior to its development, fire departments depended on bucket brigades and hand pumps to fight blazes. Neither method was particularly effective in dousing any burning infernos. They were most effective in stopping the spread of an active fire to neighboring structures.

The Silsby’s breakthrough was a steam powered pump. Capable of pumping 600 gallons of water a minute, it could shoot a stream reaching over 200 feet. That made those hand-pumps look like squirt guns. With the new pumpers in high demand, the City of Marietta purchased the 65th unit built by the Seneca, New York-based Silsby Company, according to city records.

Standing next to the historic innovation, it's easy to imagine a frantic fire crew, racing down a narrow Marietta street — likely a dirt or cobblestone road — to an 1880s fire. A team of three horses pulled the Silsby unit. An active fire burned in the firebox and steam poured from the stack. The wagon clattered noisily down the street, rattling loudly over every bump. A driver guided the team of racing horses. A crew of two or three firemen hung on for dear life during the ride. And out front or alongside ran a Dalmatian.

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The Marietta Fire Museum is filled with historic fire fighting apparatus, and vintage fire fighting gear.Photo: DeanLand / Our Travel Cafe

More on Marietta Fire Museum

The Marietta Fire Museum is filled with historic fire fighting apparatus. It also houses vintage fire fighting protective gear; a variety of nozzles, gauges, hoses, helmets and more; newspaper articles recounting famous Marietta fires; and photos from ceremonies and parades featuring the Marietta Fire Department.

You can find more on the Marietta Fire Museum at this OurTravelCafe.com blog.

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I'm a trained journalist, global traveler and retired business executive who worked for more than 20 years with some of the world's best and largest restaurant enterprises. I left the business world behind, living in Northwest Georgia and writing about avocations including outdoor excursions, family-friendly travel, road trips, exploration ideas for active seniors and some of my community passions. I've traveled to 47 states and nearly as many countries, and I'm still counting up. I'm a traveler, hiker, cyclist, blogger, marketing consultant, community volunteer and local high school band nerd who previously has lived in Florida, Ohio, Indiana and Mississippi. I'm a South Louisiana-born French Cajun whose great-grandparents were sugar farmers, bar owners and reputed bootleggers. My upbringing in food-rich Louisiana and my restaurant industry career affirmed my status as an over-qualified eater. That also inspired the name of my blog, OurTravelCafe.com. There, I offer up a complete menu of our my own experiences, explorations and adventures, organized by geography and always sprinkled with some spicy, tasty tidbits and food notes.

Acworth, GA
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