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York’s Vigilant Fire Engines Collide

Vigilant steam engine
Whoops. I guess it is kind of embarrassing if your horse-drawn fire engine runs away, is stopped by a collision with your other engine and has to be people-drawn to the fire. That’s what happened to York’s Vigilant Fire Co. in the late 1800s.
They may have been the actual engines depicted on these postcards from the York County Heritage Trust collection. A later newspaper account recapped the action:

“Here was a thriller! Hiram Foust, driver of the Vigilant steamer, when he hurriedly mounted the driver’s seat, in answer to an alarm, found that the reins had not been left in the usual position and was unable to grasp them. Out dashed the horses, and they followed the other apparatus east of Market street.
Before the square was reached the driver of the chemical [engine], hearing shouts, looked back and became the master of the situation. As the engine’s horses tried to pass the chemical, it was driven over in front of them. There was a collision and the engine pole was broken and the harness torn.
Ropes were attached and citizens joined in hauling the engine to the blaze, a big box car loaded with apples and beans on the PRR tracks at Duke and North streets.”

Vigilant Chemical Engine
Click the links below for more on York County fires.
Whip factory burns.
Goldsboro arson.
York condensed milk plant fire.
York County jail fire worries prisoners.
Woman, cow and horses saved.
Red Lion cigar factory goes up in smoke.