There had never been anything like it before when the prototype rolled out of the Amoskeag works in 1865. The horse-drawn equipment the Manchester, New Hampshire-based company had been producing since 1859 had developed a great reputation, but the apparatus like the one pictured revolutionized fire fighting. It was the first practical U.S.-built self-propelled pumper and it rapidly proved itself. Although only twenty-two were produced between 1867 and 1908, their performance on the road and at fire scenes became legendary.While the earliest examples could only manage 10 miles per hour, Hartford, Connecticut’s famous Jumbo could reach 25, almost twice the pace of contemporary horse drawn equipment. It could pump water at a maximum rate of 1,800 gallons per minute and throw a horizontal stream 340 feet through 50 feet of hose.
This smaller unit, purchased by the Boston Fire Department in 1897, was their second. They had acquired their first one after it had provided exemplary service in The Great Fire of 1872 which destroyed 767 buildings in 24 hours in the old city.Vancouver, British Colombia in Canada took delivery of the very last example produced in 1908. It remained in active service there until 1940. You’ll find many more pages of steam-related posts on The Old Motor. Photos are courtesy of the Leslie Jones Collection at the Boston Public Library.