ASHLAND, Ore. — The year was 1948. Bravely battling the flooded basement of Weitzel's department store on the Ashland Plaza, town firemen parked their 1946 Ford fire pumper on a bridge near the entrance to Lithia Park.
Yet, as the firemen prepared to pump away—disaster struck. The bridge, buffeted by a swollen creek, buckled under the weight of that Ford rig, sending it plummeting straight down into the creek. There the brave fire pumper sat submerged for a night and a day, blazing away with its red beacon until early the next morning.
The amphibious fire engine before its rehabilitation by SOHS (photo courtesy of SOHS).
Lovingly nicknamed the "amphibious fire truck," the Ford pumper was eventually fished out, taken apart, and fixed up—living to fight fire and flood again for many years to follow.
Over the years, the amphibious Ford changed hands and eventually fell on hard times. That is, until the Southern Oregon Historical Society (SOHS) took it on as something of a special "all-volunteer" project. With many hours, donations, and elbow-grease, the fire engine is back in working order.
Now, according to SOHS, the amphibious fire engine will be proudly on display at the Ashland Fourth of July Parade. After the parade, the engine will be parked on Ashland Plaza. The public will be welcome to climb inside the engine and try out all the antique bells and whistles.