03/17/10 211 W, 1 I - + 4 - 1 Goldsboro Fire Wagon, Circa 1890s

Here's a nifty photo from the North Carolina State Archives, showing a horse-drawn hose wagon in Goldsboro in the 1890s. The driver is identified as Samuel Thorton, and the wagon appears lettered for Goldsboro No. 1 Fire Company. Or perhaps Goldsboro No. 1 Hose Company. What do we know about their fire department then?

Sanborn Maps from January 1891 list the fire department as having one steam fire engine, one chemical engine, three hose carts, and 2,000 to 2,500 feet of hose in good condition. The town had a waterworks, though perhaps no hydrants. Population 5,000.

By April 1896, the fire department consisted of volunteers plus paid engineers and drivers, one Silsby steamer, one chemical engine, two horse-drawn hose wagons, two hand-drawn hose reels, and 1,800 feet of hose. The water system was equipped with 85 double hydrants, with average pressure of 50 pounds per square inch. Population still 5,000.

Looking closely at the photo-- click once or twice to enlarge-- a few features are visible. There's a gong opposite the floorboard, and that would be foot-powered. The rear of the wagon has the tailboard, and what might be a pair of lamps in the rear. That might be a toolbox on the tailboard as well. No other equipment is obvious.

Courtesy North Carolina State Archives

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