The hydraulion, the county’s oldest piece of firefighting equipment came to Elkton about 1827, after townspeople purchased the unit in Philadelphia for $700. The “Water Witch,” which was built for one of the volunteer companies in the city, served there for about nine years, before it was sold. It was a new design, a combination unit with a hand-pumper and hose reel mounted on the same carriage. That reduced some of the strenous exertion required of the men as all the needed equipment was on the combination unit the men struggled to drag quickly to the blaze.
It became Elkton’s pride and when the courthouse bell tolled out with that chilling alarm in the middle of a dark winter night, men pulled the heavy contraption to the fire. Once there, they formed bucket lines to keep the tub built into the hydraulion full of water as a gang of others rapidly worked the levers on the pump. For thirty years, this was the town’s defense against fire. But In 1859 a second-hand pumper, a suction engine was purchased in Baltimore.
As Singerly started planning for its’ 100th anniversary in the early 1980’s both of these old heroes of many of a hard-fought fight were restored. Restoration was done by a Mr. Petersheim, an Amish carriagemaker near Christiana PA. Today the equipment is displayed in the company museum. The photos below are before and after photos of the older unit, the hydraulion. Singerly consulted with two experts from Philadelphia, Al Wills and Jack Robrecht, during the restoration. The second photo represents the original color of the 1818 relic. The first image is of the unit just before it was transported to Mr. Petersheim’s for restoration.