Did you know that old fire equipment can be rather beautiful? If not a visit to the fire museum in New Albany, Indiana will convince you.
The museum was the passion of the late Fred Conway who was the fire chief for Perry Township. He is well known in the area for his book “This Will Never Happen Again” about the idea he came up with pre-911 to help residents call in times of a fire emergency. Fred developed, a brilliant red fluorescent emergency number labels that residents placed on the cradle of their phones, with the correct fire department number listed.
When Fred Conway’s fire collection grew to include 14 large pieces that consisted of hand-pulled engines, horse-drawn engines and motorized vehicles to accommodate the size of the collection he opened a museum called Vintage Fire Engines, Inc. in June 1999. His collection also included smaller items such as models, trumpets and lanterns. The museum closed after Fred passed away in September 1999 .
The museum reopened after it was purchased by the Friends of the New Albany Fire Museum, Inc. Visitors can see the museum on appointed days. Fred Conways collection Curt Peters explained has even expanded since the opening. Some of the highlights of the museum include a 1756 Colonial Hand Engine, an 1828 hand tub fire engine that sucks water in and out, for which firefighters used a well or creek and an 1838 hand-drawn hand pump fire engine. The museum also has an 1855 8- to 10-person fire engine and an amazing 1875 Sherman Steam Engine, which was the first chemical fire engine in the United States. Built in Paris the engine was sent to the U.S. in 1870. The collection includes beautifully restored hose carts that also served as parade pieces from the 1870s.
This covers just a few of the historic antique fire equipment on display in this lovely river town.
The museum is located at 411 E. Spring and is open Saturdays from 1-4 and longer during the summer. Call 502-599-2522 for information and an appointment.