Silsby Steamer at Crystal Lake :circa 1941

  • Silsby Steamer at Crystal Lake :circa 1941
  • The Lucius Beebe Steamer No. 1, often referred to as the Silsby Steamer, was Wakefield's first steam and horse-drawn engine. Built by the Silsby Manufacturing Company of New York and purchased by the Town at a cost of $3400 in 1882, the steamer was a replacement for the Yale hand pump engine. The Town had its first look at the Lucius Beebe steamer and its 400 gallon-per-minute capabilities at an exhibition at Carter's Pond on the corner of Main and Crescent Streets that year. The steamer and its hose and supply wagons were first stationed at the fire station on the lower Common, and later moved to a newly built firehouse on Crescent Street in 1894. The horses were housed at the nearby Hathaway Stables. To keep the horses active, they were loaned to various Town departments, including the Highway Department which use the steamer to water its gravel roads during the summer. The Silsby Steamer was replaced by the Amoskeag Steamer in 1908 and placed in reserve service. The steamer was taken out of reserves and given to the Water Department for use at the Broadway pumping station in 1928 "for standby in the event of failure of electric power." In the early 1940s, the steamer remained at the Broadway station "ready to be used to quench fires and for auxiliary water supply." Wakefield was in a severe two-year drought in 1940 and 1941 which caused Crystal Lake to be 81" below the high watermark in 1941. The Silsby steamer was rebuilt and used to pump water from Crystal Lake into the filter. The drought created an expansive shoreline as the picture shows. Note the Junction train station which can be seen in the background.
  • Image from the Wakefield Municipal Gas and Light Department annual calendar, 2021
  • Photo courtesy of David Parr and the collection of the late Murray Young
  • ca. 1941
  • Wakefield, Mass. : Wakefield Municipal Gas & Light Department


“Silsby Steamer at Crystal Lake :circa 1941,” Lucius Beebe Memorial Library, Wakefield, Mass., accessed May 13, 2021,


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