MARSHALL, TX(RNN Texoma) - After a hundred years it's finally back home. The first fire engine owned by Marshall Fire Department is parked back where it belongs. And many years of its journey are still a mystery.
The fire engine got its start at American LaFrance in South Carolina. Marshall Fire Chief Reggie Cooper says it was built for the Marshall Fire Department in 1916.
"Even though we had the first motorized engine, it still ran alongside the horses," Cooper said.
It served the department for years, then no one knows what happened to it. In 1987 the new owners of Longview Scrap & Metal discovered it. It was displayed out front near a fence by the loop in Longview. Co-owner Brian Daugbjerg says about two years ago it was nearly destroyed.
"A vehicle rolled down the loop here and came through our fence and hit an old 1930's John Deer Tractor that was sitting here," Daugbjerg recalled.
The tractor sacrificed itself for the truck. All that is left of the tractor is a wheel which a tree had grown through. The previous owners of the scrapyard knew it was a Marshall truck and didn't want it sold for parts.
In mid-December a Longview Fire Captain, Eric Karling, did a U-turn through the scrap yard and saw the truck.
"As fate would have it, Longview Fire Department was here, and mentioned it to the Marshall Fire Department," Daugbjerg recalled.
"Our guys looked the model number up and sure enough it's one of the very first engines that the City of Marshal purchased for the fire department," Cooper relayed.
Daugbjerg felt the truck belonged with MFD, so he gave it to them, and a Marshall body shop towed it in for free.
"And I think those guys so very much," Cooper said.
And so, although it's seen better days, the truck is back home.
"You got a call. Is this going out?" I said as an alert tone went off at the fire station.
"You know what? We're going to have to do a little work on it before this baby goes out," Cooper smiled.
Somehow the wooden wheels didn't rot away, and the frame is intact but:
"We're just brainstorming all sorts of ideas on how to bring this baby back up," Cooper added.
It will never start in its present state, but there are unconnected parts that still move. MFD is determined to bring it back to its former glory, and maybe they'll refer to it as the little engine that could.
If you know anything about the fire engine's history, or can offer help in restoring it please contact the Marshall Fire Department at 903-935-4580.