Aurora's “Young America Fire Co.”
and the Aurora Regional Fire Museum's
“Young America No. 2” hand-pumped fire engine
After several large fires and years of discussion, the Aurora City Council established a fire company in the summer of 1856. The name "Young America Fire Company No.1" was chosen, officers and a uniform were selected, and a fire engine, hose reel, and 500 feet of hose were ordered from Wright & Brothers of Rochester, New York for $1,100.
While the hand pumper in the Aurora Regional Fire Museum's collection was made in the 1850s and is of similar construction, it was made by the Button Fire Engine Mfg. Co. and is not the origional "Young America." Like the origional however, our engine is made out of solid mahogany and is of the "piano box" style, (so called because it has a flat or plain deck thought to resemble a square piano). It has large wheels, and long folding brakes (wooden bars running horizontally to each side of the body which operated the pump).
The Aurora Regional Fire Museum completed the restoration of our hand-pumped fire engine in 2004, and as a nod to Aurora's history, it has been christened, "Young America No. 2."
Aurora's original Young America Fire Co.
Restoring our hand pumper
Follow the engine's restoration in this step-by-step photo article.
Memorial Day, 2002
In its inagural appearance, members of the Aurora Fire Department pulled the Young America No. 2 engine, alongside a group of Naperville firefighters and their 1870s era “Joe Naper” hand-engine.
ARFM's Great New England
Road Trip of 2001
In June of 2001, we traveled to Waltham Massachusetts to witness (and participate) in a traditional New England handtub muster!
This is the place to go for anything and everyhing you ever wanted to know about hand pumed fire engines, (or "enjines" as they used to say)....
Handtub Fire Engine
Exposition & Pumping Competition
On Saturday, June 26th, 20004, the Aurora Regional Fire Museum sponsored the first handtub fire engine competition in the State of Illinois since 1897. Ten hand-operated fire engines from six states -- as far away as New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Massachusetts -- attended this unique two-day event.
There are numerious Handtub “musters” (competitions) thoughout the country. Most are sponsored by the century old “New England States Veteran Firemen's League” or the organization "HandtubJunction" Check out their Muster Schedule for specific dates and locations.
"Young America Engine arrived in Aurora, Saturday, October 4th at noon. First test Monday, October 6th. It was taken to the race in front of Stolp's factory where numerous spectators collected to witness the first trial of the first fire engine in Aurora. When the order "play away boys" was given, a large beautiful stream of water was raised far above the cupola of the factory in the face of a strong wind."
-- Aurora Beacon News,
Oct. 6, 1856