The Wabash County Museum houses more than 150,000 artifacts that are actively cared for, preserved, and used for exhibitions. Some of the artifacts are as small as a paper document, while one of the largest items in the Museum currently is the Service Motor Truck. Many of these items are located in the Richard E. Ford Archives and Research Center, while others are stored in the climate controlled lower level collection storage space. However, the Museum’s newest artifact will not fit in either of these spaces.
On Tuesday, the Museum took ownership of a 1971 Mack Fire Engine. This engine was used by the Wabash City Fire Department, and while it was in service was referred to as Engine No. 2. After being taken out of service in 2006 as a reserve engine for Wabash City Fire Department, the fire engine was owned by a local collector before being sold to yet another collector outside of the area.
“Engine No. 2 showed up at a fire muster in New Haven, IN a few weeks ago with a for sale sign posted in it,” explained Mitch Figert, President and CEO of the Wabash County Museum. “It wasn’t long before the Museum starting receiving calls to consider bringing this engine home.”
The Museum does not usually accept large items due to the complexities presented in caring for them, such as storage, ongoing maintenance, and use restrictions. In this case, however, the Museum saw an opportunity to preserve a piece of Wabash County history while also using the fire engine as part of their community and educational programming.
As part of the Museum’s sponsorship program, Gebhart Holdings, Inc. has partnered with the Museum to sponsor Engine No. 2.
Ben Gebhart, CEO of Gebhart Holdings, stated, “We’re happy to support the Museum and appreciate all that they do for the community. The fire engine will be another great piece to add to their already impressive collection of Wabash County History.”
The Museum has been fortunate to partner with companies and individuals to sponsor new exhibits and also to repair and refresh many of their more than 90 exhibits housed within the Museum. Exhibit sponsors play a critical role as the Museum continues to see tremendous growth in attendance and educational programs.
“Thanks to the generous support of Gebhart Holdings, Inc., the Museum was able to acquire the engine before it could be sold and taken further out of the area,” said Figert. “The Museum relies on the generosity of donors to support our mission and we are grateful for Gebhart Holdings, Inc. support and passion for our local community.”
Engine No. 2 will make a homecoming performance during the Wabash Founder’s Day Parade on Saturday, September 21st.