Thursday, September 19, 2013

Tools of the Trade: Engineer's Coal Oil Torch

by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator

H.K. Giggy, Fireman and C.C. Garr, Engineer, pre-1928
Note oil can in his hand.
1800 compound 2-6-2 eng
HCHM Photo Archives

The Harvey County Historical Museum and Archives has a large collection of railroad related artifacts, documents and photographs.  Currently, these items are not on display, but we still want to share them with the public.  Many of these pieces are made of heavy iron and difficult to move around, but there are also smaller pieces that helped the engineers, firemen, and brakemen operated a steam locomotive safely.  

As I got this object out to photograph it, the smell of kerosene still lingered and the exterior is no doubt slightly cleaner than when it was in use.
 Engineer's coal oil torch
HCHM 84.858
In the days before flashlights, kerosene-fueled inspection "torches" like this one were used to inspect parts of a steam locomotive when natural light was inadequate.

ATSF Engine 1012
Brakemen - A.F. McDowell, E.C. Humphfres;
Engineer - H.B. Mell; Conductor - E.G. Pusey;
Fireman - R.D. Beach
HCHM Photo Archives

  • Hurley, L.M. "Mike", Newton, Kansas #1 Santa Fe Rail Hub; 1871-1971. Newton, KS: Mennonite Press, 1985.
  • Harvey County Historical Museum and Archives Railroad Collection.
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