Eureka Pumper

The Eureka Triumphs!

Eureka PumperPurchased in 1851, for about $300, it was the first engine built by Howard & Davis, later a Boston clock firm, and remains the pride and joy of the Arlington Fire Department, winning pumping contest after pumping contest. Its purchase was the occasion for a parade –the Eureka may have been to more parades in its 160-year history than fires—which ended in a Spy Pond Hotel banquet. One would guess that the new machine was toasted with more than water.

The Howard and Davis pumps were brand new machines in mid-nineteenth century Boston and to prove themselves worthy against the older established Hunneman engines—William Hunneman, the builder of these stalwart models, had been a metalsmith since 1790, learning his chops in the metal-working shop of Paul Revere—contests ensued.

In the fall of 1852 near Alewife Brook, the Somerville Fire Department, just as proud of its fire pumper as the Arlington firefighters were of their new state-of-the-art Eureka, challenged each other to a pumping test. Both Mr. Hunneman and Mr. Howard, who designed the competition events, attended in person. Three tests followed and three times the Eureka triumphed! I think there was another parade.

Michael D.Drukman, “A Story of Fire Protection, 1816-1995″ AHS Archives.

To see an example of an old Hunneman pumper, visit

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