TAMAQUA — A fire truck that dates back to the 1920s is back home in Schuylkill County. The truck journeyed to other parts of the country and has now returned to Tamaqua.
The last time the truck was in Tamaqua was more than 50 years ago. Now it’s back for good. The truck was sold in the 1960s and then was resold five times. It ended up in Florida. The Tamaqua Historical Society recently bought it for $5,000 and arranged for it to be trucked back to the Citizens Fire Company.
“It’s unbelievable! We thought this day would ever happen. There have been many times throughout the years we’ve tried to get this back in the borough and preserve that piece of history,” said Jason Green of the Citizens Fire Company.
The truck is 91 years old, older than Vern Balliet by a year.
“For those years, it held up pretty good.”
A crowd gathered as volunteers tried to get the fire truck backed into its new home. But it was too much for them, so a modern tow truck was used to ease the antique into place.
“It’s amazing. Tamaqua restoring the historical value. The truck is amazing, great condition,” said Rich Ritter.
The antique truck has a story of its own. It was Tamaqua’s fire truck and was bought in 1922, during Prohibition when the sale or consumption of alcohol was illegal.
“In order to pay for the fire truck once it got here, they made illegal beer, loaded it in five-gallon buckets and sold it on the back of the truck as they went up and downs the streets of Tamaqua. So it was a great way as a fundraiser and also to satisfy the thirsts of local residents,” said Dale Freudenberger of the Tamaqua Historical Society.
The next big step for the historical society is to work on the engine and get it running again.