Guardians of The City SFFD Home Page - San Francisco Fire Department Museum
Museum Collections: Apparatus - Knickerbocker Engine Co. No. 5:
1855 Hand Engine, a hand pulled and hand pumped fire engine with two ten inch cylinders
Knickerbocker as Curry Engine 2 Carson City Nevada
As Curry Engine 2 in Carson City, Nevada
Click on the first image to start the slide show.

Builder: James Smith, New York

Original Cost: $5,000

Location: Headquarters' lobby

Condition: Very Good, preserved.

Pumping Crew: 50 to 60

Service History: 1855 to Spring 1864.  Kinckerbocker No.5, Sacramento  Street between Sansome and Leidesdorff Streets

This engine was the second large ‘mashine” purchased by the Knickerbockers.  It is the engine that the company's mascot, teenager Lillie Hitchcock, rode atop during parades.  The pumping bars are the longest ever built on a side stroke engine. In full operation she can throw a stream of water over 250 feet.

With the disbanding of the volunteer companies on December 3, 1866, most of the apparatus was sold to other fire departments throughout the west. The Knickerbockers sold this engine to Curry Engine Co. No. 2 of the Carson City, (Nevada) Fire Department in the spring of 1864.  The Comstock Fire Museum also confirms this sale. In the early 1920's friends of Lillie Coit, realizing the value of the engine, went to Virginia City and bought it and returned it to San Francisco. In the early 1920's when the DeYoung Museum opened, this engine was added to their display of California artifacts.  In 1960, when De Young Museum changed from a history museum to an art museum, the engine was loaned to Mrs. Louise Davies.  Mrs. Davies was an Honorary Chief of Department and the owner of the “Old 31 Engine” firehouse on Green Street.  The engine remained at “Old 31” until her death in the 1998.  The DeYoung Museum then loaned the engine to the SFFD Museum, and it is now on display in the lobby of headquarters at 698 Second Street in San Francisco.

The Knickerbockers first engine, an 1850 James Smith, was sold to Petaluma on June 2, 1857, for $1,500, becoming Petaluma's first fire engine.   This engine is still in existence and is currently on display in the Petaluma Museum.

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