Object Record

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Title Fire Engine, Side-Stroke Water Pump
Catalog Number CVHM-85.35
Description 85.35 Description: Side-Stroke Fire Engine made by L. Button & Sons of Waterford, New York in 1872. A four wheeled side-stroke water pump fire engine. The sides of the black-painted flat-decked water box are lettered in gold leaf: "Springfield". A leather induction (suction) hose is permanently attached to an inlet opening at the rear of the engine's water box. The hose is curved up and over the top and rests on iron brackets when not in use - a style referred to as a "Squirrel-tail Pumper". A brass bell is mounted above the front axle. A pressure gauge (calibrated from 0 to 200 lbs) for the large globe-shaped copper tank that sits atop the water box, is inscribed on the dial: "Pressure Gauge / E.A. Ashcroft / Boston, Mass. / 1876 and "Solid Drawn Tube / Registered Aug. 21, 1876 / No.9". The "crane-neck" shaped shaft is lettered in gold "City of Homes", and enables the front wheels to turn under the engine for better maneuverability. The front of the water box bears a brass plate engraved: "L.Button & Sons / Waterford, N.Y. / No.599 / 1872"; below, a second engraved plate reads: "Rebuilt by Porter & Grant / Waterford, NY / 1898".

Comment: Lysander Button, and his son Theodore, established their engine manufactory at Waterford on the banks of the Erie Canal in 1834. Their company became part of the American Fire Engine Company in 1891. The difference in dates recorded on the nameplates and on the dial of the gauge would indicate that the gauge was added after the engine was built, perhaps when it was rebuilt by Porter & Grant in 1898.


(Below label for MOSH based on text/research prepared, J. Hamilton, P. Jurkowski)

Side-Stroke Fire Engine, 1872

L. Button & Sons, Waterford NY

Gift of Springfield Veteran Firemen’s Association

CVHM 85.35

Early fire pumpers were a great improvement over the bucket brigade system of fighting fires. Now instead of throwing water onto a fire from small buckets, hand pumper engines were utilized, pulled to the scene by teams of firefighters. The men would line up along the sides of the pumper and raise and lower the long “brakes” you see running parallel along this engine. The motion would operate the pump, which in turn fed water through a hose. The longest stream of water thrown by this engine was recorded in 1908 as being 219 feet. In subsequent years, steam boilers replaced man power to work pumps, and horses were recruited to pull the now-heavier engines.



In 1834 William Platt and Lysander Button established their engine manufactory at Waterford, Saratoga County, New York on the banks of the Erie Canal. Mr. Platt withdrew from the Company in 1841 and it then became L. Button & Son (for Lysander’s son Theodore). Their Company later became part of the American Fire Engine Company in 1891.



This model engine was marked as Button’s Hand Fire Engine No. 1. It weighs approximately 3500 pounds, and when the “brakes” are up, measures 81" tall. It was originally built for Circleville, Ohio, then went to Coxsackie, NY and was finally purchased by the Springfield Veteran Firemen’s Association in 1898.









Artist L. Button & Sons, Waterford, NY
Object Name Engine, Fire
Date 1872
Dimensions H-6.9 W-5.6 D-25 feet
Credit line Gift of Springfield Veteran Firemen's Association
Museum Lyman and Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History
On Exhibit Yes, Lyman and Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History