Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Austin Hook and Ladder Co., No. 1 - Lantern

Here is a great introduction to one of the most precious artifacts being displayed in the Austin Fire Museum. The story of how it was acquired and its journey through the years is a favorite. Special thanks to FS Jerry Cohen and Lt. Josh Miller who provided this information to help folks be more familiar with our history and possibly the most important item in the Museum's inventory.

The Lantern

by Jerry Cohen

Check out this picture of Old Central Fire Station No. 1 from 1915. Colorado Fire Company No. 2 is the pumper on the left and Hook and Ladder Fire Co. No. 1 is pictured at right.

Now, focus your attention above the front door at the bottom left corner of the fire station. You’ll see a lantern hanging from the second floor balcony and positioned above the front door.

In 2004, when the Austin Fire Department Historical Society and Museum was being organized, a gentleman in his 80′s got word of a fire museum in the works and contacted us. The man, Leo Mueller, Jr., mentioned that his father was Chief of the Austin Fire Department in 1913 when it was volunteer. Following Chief Mueller’s involvement with the Austin Fire Department, he somehow gained ownership of this Hook and Ladder 1 lantern. Many years later, Mueller, Sr., passed on the lantern to Mueller, Jr. Mueller, Jr., hung the lantern as his bedroom light fixture for well over 30 years! After learning of the opening of the Austin Fire Museum, Mr. Mueller donated the lantern for display. The Hook and Ladder 1 lantern is one of the AFD Museum’s most prized possessions and we are eternally grateful to Mr. Leo Mueller, Jr. for his donation.

There is a frosted glass on the rear with the inscription March 23, 1861. The significance of that date is unclear to the AFD Historical Society. We have found several dates of organization and charters for Hook and Ladder #1, with September 25, 1857 being the most common, but have not yet found documentation of the significance of March 23, 1861.

 Fire Chief Leo Mueller, Sr., in 1913

Fire Chief Leo Mueller, Sr., in 1913