Wooden Hose Cart, First Piece of Firefighting Equipment in Littleton, 1892

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Artifact Is: 3 Dimensional Item
Located at: Littleton Museum

Artifact Significant To: Colorado

Artifact Description:

Originally used by the Littleton Volunteer Fire Department, this red-painted wooden hose cart is the first piece of firefighting equipment purchased by the town of Littleton. The cart is comprised of two spoked wheels, a T-shaped handle, and a spool to wind hose around. This cart aided the volunteers, who acted as the city’s main fire defense. Teams of volunteers dragged these carts holding hose and leather buckets to each fire. Related items in the Littleton Museum’s collection include the cart’s original bill of sale to the department, the original nozzle, and a wooden hose clamp.

Why Is This Artifact Significant?

After Littleton’s incorporation in 1890, John G. Lilley and 24 volunteers founded the John G. Lilley Hook and Ladder Company, which would later become the Littleton Hose Company #1 in 1892 and then Hose Company #2 in 1901. While they began with only a few buckets, in 1891, they were able to purchase this hand cart, their first professional equipment. Thanks to the constant training and dedication of the volunteers, Littleton never suffered any catastrophic fires, despite relying only on this main piece of equipment for over 20 years.

How Does The Artifact Relate To Colorado History?

By 1960, skyrocketing population growth forced the City and the Littleton Fire Protection District to abandon the 70 year old volunteer system, and professional firemen were hired for the first time. Subsequently, the need for better equipment meant the old equipment became outdated. Valuing the heritage of Littleton’s early volunteer force, the Littleton Fire Department, Littleton Museum, and preservation-minded citizens have ensured that the original equipment has survived to this day.

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