Grand Day for Elkton, When 2nd Pumper Doubles Size of Firefighting Force

Elkton doubled the size of its firefighting force when an additional hand-pumper was purchased in Baltimore in 1859.  Although it was a used piece of apparatus, it was a major step forward as the Rodgers didn’t require a bucket brigade to supply the pump with water.  This suction engine, which the townspeople had purchased for $450 from the Vigilant Fire Company of Baltimore, could pull water from a stream or pond.

It was a grand day for the town’s volunteer firefighters when Captain Ford of the Schooner Iglehort offloaded the precious hand-pumper.  Volunteers proudly marched it in a procession through the streets and there was a general turnout of people.  The young volunteers, after parading it around decided to demonstrate its power at the highest structure in Elkton.  So off they went to the 18th century courthouse.  There the “boys” threw a stream higher than the steeple of the court-house.

Just about the time they’d successful pumped a powerful stream, some of the senior firemen pulled the town’s older fire engine down to the courthouse and manned the Hydraulion as it was called.  It threw water higher than the new one, to shouts and cheers for that old Philadelphia pumper, a relic of 1818.  The boys at the new machine full of pluck, again railed and this time did better, and it was their turn to cheer.  Back and forth it went until the old engine was put to work one more time, the excitement all the time raising in the crowd, when up went her water ten or fifteen-feet higher than before, beating the new engine fairly and decidedly.

These two old heroes of many a fight with the flames protected Elkton until the early 1890s when the Singerly Fire Company was formed and purchased a steam engine, hook-and-ladder, and hose carts.  This old hand-pumper has been preserved and is on display at the fire company museum.

Al Wills, an expert on old 19th century pumpers, examines the Rodgers at the Historical Society just before it was sent to an Amish carriagemaker for restoration. This was in the mid-1980s

The John Rodgers is on display at Singerly's museum in Elkton


Elkton's 19th century force of firefighting equipment in retirement in the 1950s. Both units were restored by the fire company for the 100th anniversary in 1992.


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