Description: This two-wheeled cart is an early fire engine, powered not by steam and not by horses, but by hand. One thousand pounds of fire hose would be wrapped around the axle, and then connected to the gold sprayer on the nose. The cart was manufactured by the Silsby Manufacturing Company in Seneca Falls, New York, and at the time the company made not only hand-drawn carts but horse-drawn and early steam powered carts. The cart was purchased in 1886 by one of Sioux City’s four volunteer hose companies at the time, James P. Wall Hose Company No. 2 on Sioux City’s Westside. Four men would grip the handles on the nose and pull the cart, but pulling the heavy cart up steep hills in a time before paved roads was no easy task. The rope attached to the cart could be extended so the entire 17 man hose company could pull it with much more efficiency.
In its early days the Sioux City Fire Department was ill-equipped to handle large blazes, especially in a time where light and power was provided by flame and gas. The department largely depended on private investors and volunteer efforts. By 1900 most of the companies in the fire department were using horse-drawn vehicles, and several also had hook and ladder trucks, which were equipped with long ladders for rescue operations. By the early 1930s tax revenues and city involvement boosted the fire department’s capabilities, and nearly all stations were provided with motorized fire engines. In 1924 the fire department headquarters was located in the Municipal Building at 6th and Water Street. The department needs soon outgrew the building and it was forced to relocate. Today the Fire Department headquarters sits on 6th and Douglas, with well-equipped stations all over the city. Its people have been there in the face of many different disasters, keeping bad ones from becoming worse and the catastrophic ones from crippling the city entirely.
Donor: Sioux City Fire Department