Roanoke River Paddle Trail
Elizabeth City's First Steam Pumper
Elizabeth City's first fire equipment was acquired sometime during the late 1850s. In April of 1888 the city fathers purchased the first steam pumper from the Silsby Manufacturing Company of Seneca Falls, N.Y. (the oldest steam fire engine building company in the country) for $3,100.|
The Elizabeth City fire company was known as the Albemarle Fire Company. The fire steam engine was named for Chief G.S. Bell's oldest daughter, Inez. Steam Pumper "Inez" was originally pulled by two gray horses; she pumped water from the river and creeks. In 1891 wells were dug on Cale Street and at the corner of Road and Burgess Streets to act as water sources for Inez. In 1899 additional wells were dug in various remote locations.
When the fire alarm was received at the fire station, a fire would be lit in Inez' boiler. Light wood or lard coated wood was used to ignite the fire. While the boiler was being fired, horses were placed in position and harnessed. By the time Inez arrived at her destination, there was sufficient steam to begin pumping.|
Inez could get steam up in 5 to 6 minutes, had a vertical lift of 29 feet and could throw a stream through 1,000 feet of leather hose a distance of 180 feet. Inez was said to stand perfectly still while pumping, even during her heaviest duty; so still, a glass of water could be placed on a wheel and not spill a drop.
The Inez is on loan to the museum by Robert Jennings of Elizabeth City and remains one of our most popular exhibits. She was purchased from the city for scrap by Robert's father, Miles after 30 years of service around 1918.
Brockway City Service Hook and Ladder Truck
An all black fire company was organized in Elizabeth City in 1891; it was a hook and ladder company. In 1900 a new ladder wagon was purchased for $400 for the company. The old wagon was sold to the town of Hertford for $50.|
During the 1921 session of the North Carolina General Assembly, Representative J.E. Cook from Pasquotank County introduced a bill creating "the Elizabeth City Fire Commission, with powers to levy a special tax for the maintenance and operation of the Elizabeth City Fire Department". One of the first acts of the commission was to purchase this Brockway City Service Ladder Truck. She carries 250 feet of ladders, a 35 gallon chemical tank and other equipment.
The truck was manned by the all black, Quick Step Hook and Ladder Company. It remained in service until the 1950s when it was replaced by an aerial ladder truck.
The Museum of the Albemarle
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