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Local History 

Fire Department Horses

 Click to enlarge.Springfield Leader, January 13, 1917, page 5.

Fire Department to get rid of horses

"The days of Charley, Duke, Rock and Mack are numbered.  Soon they will no longer hear the shrill alarm of fire and thrill at it; soon, too, they will not strain every muscle in their giant bodies against the traces, hurrying the heavy engines through the city’s streets.  The smell of smoke and the bright glare of a night fire soon will exist for them only in memory.

"For Charley, Duke, Rock and Mack are under sentence of suspension from the duties as fire horses.

"FOR SALE –Four Good Horses; Bargain –Apply Within

"The foregoing sign, to be seen at the Central fire station, tells the story of Charley, Duke, Rock and Mack.  All four horses can be purchased from Assistant Chief Jeff Gott for less than half of the amount paid for them by the city.

"The quartette has one consolation:  they have not grown old in the service and they will not be replaced with other horses.  Motor vehicles spelled the fate of the four.  For none of the animals are old.

"Charley and Rock for the past five years have pulled the engine on No. 1 station.  Charley is ten years old and Rock is a year the junior of his mate.  Rock’s color- for he is flea-bitten- is the only thing against him.

"Duke and Mack for six years have hurried to and from the fires of the city, the engine from the north side department.  They too are not very old, Duke being but nine years old and Mack a year older.

 Click to enlarge."The city paid $650 a team for the animals. The four horses each weigh between 1400 and 1600 pounds.

"'We are selling the animals merely because we no longer have any real use for them,’ said Chief W. R. Price.‘The engines which they have to pull weigh 9000 pounds and in bad weather it is almost impossible for a team to handle such vehicles.  We are now pulling these engines behind the motor hose wagons, thus doing away with the horses.'"


For old fire engines see Fire engines by Fred Crismon. The library also has a file of newspaper clipping, magazine articles, histories and more concerning the Springfield Fire Department.  See the librarians at the Local History desk at the Library Center.  The photographs above are from the Library Center photograph collection; the source is unknown. 


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