According to the Amoskeag Manufacturing Co. of Manchester, New Hampshire: A History, a book written by George Waldo Browne in 1915, the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company, after selling their locomotive division to the Manchester Locomotive Works, began to manufacture steam fire engines in 1859.
An Amoskeag Manufacturing Company employee, Nehemiah S. Bean (pictured left), brought forth a new design for a steam engine, “an improvement upon one he had been instrumental in having built in Lawrence which was the first to be constructed and put into service in New England.” The first engine to be built here in Manchester was ordered by our very own fire department!
The demand for machines of this caliber continued to grow so much, “The Company was obliged to increase its force in the machine shops. It was not long before they were able to build and deliver an engine within two months of receiving the order. Every engine sent out was warranted to be of the best material and workmanship, and a competent engineer was sent to put the machine in complete running order.”
As the popularity of these engines increased, these particular engines were “often put to severe tests at firemen’s musters and parades, and won many prizes, and became a general favorite.” So much so, that between 1859 to 1876, “550 steam fire engines were built, and…not only sent to many of the largest cities of the United States, but to other…parts of the world” including: Russia, Chile, England, China, Japan and Australia.
In 1872 was the Great Boston Fire, “one of the most costly fire-related property losses in American history.” So devastating this fire, “fire departments from every state in New England, except Vermont, arrived on trains carrying pumpers, fire fighters, and more spectators….Of these were two Amoskeag Steamers… One was the first Amoskeag ever constructed (serial number 1), owned by the Manchester Fire Department; the other was the first self-propelled Amoskeag that the manufacturer sent down. Boston purchased the self-propelled steamer after the fire, impressed with its performance. The self-propelled steamer was the first one in use in the country.”
“In 1876 the Company closed out this branch of their industry to the Locomotive Works” which had, like mentioned above, also purchased the locomotive branch of the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company. Another history-making story out of the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company!
Special thank you to the Millyard Museum for their great photos! Be sure to head to the Musuem to see an Ashland No. 1 Amoskeag Steam Fire Engine, manufactured by the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company in 1871, on display!