Historians take a trip to the fire house

Photo by Jason Kaplan A pumper from the 1830s is just one of the artifacts Historical Society guests will see at the Highland Engine Company firehouse on Monday.

Photo by Jason Kaplan
A pumper from the 1830s is just one of the artifacts Historical Society guests will see at the Highland Engine Company firehouse on Monday.

The Cornwall Historical Society will be going on a little field trip, on Monday. The monthly meeting will be held at the Highland Engine Company firehouse, rather than Munger Cottage.

“I like taking the historical society to different areas in the town and village,” said president Susan Kamlet. “You never know what’s in your own backyard.”

In September, Highland Engine Co. president Kerry McGuiness invited Kamlet over to the firehouse for a brief tour of the museum in the event hall on the second floor.

Looking for speakers for the new year, Kamlet inquired about holding a meeting there and learning more about the fire company. McGuiness agreed to provide a guided tour of the facility, along with another volunteer.

To prepare, McGuiness said he’s reviewing minutes from previous meetings, as well as obtaining information from long-time members. As practice, he provided a tour to The Local.

The Canterbury Fire District, of which Highland Engine Company is an offshoot, was formed in 1830 following an Act by the New York State Legislature. In 1958, Highland Engine Co. #1 and Mountainville Engine Co. #3 were incorporated into the Cornwall Fire Department.

The first apparatus, a pumper, was purchased for $125 and is currently on display in the museum. To operate it, firefighters had to fill basins with water and then pump the handle hard enough to force water out of a leather hose.

The fire company had several homes in Cornwall, including one on Main Street, before moving to its current location in 1970.

Also part of the fire company’s collection are tall black hats dating back to the 1800s. They were donated by Dr. Stillman along with a series of prints titled “The Life of a Fireman.”

There are numerous trophies, medals, helmets, and photographs adorning the display cases on either side of the event hall.

There are many artifacts to see and additional history to tell, but to learn more about Cornwall’s storied fire company, attend the 7 p.m. meeting of the Cornwall Historical Society on Monday.

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Jason Kaplan