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Handtub of the Month  -  February 2023
Cataract #6  -  Nantucket, Massachusetts

There once were some people from Nantucket,
They got sick of just using a bucket,
They bought a new Thayer,
To fight fires down there.
Now they don't throw water, they pump it
The Cataract No. 6 was built by Stephan Thayer of Boston in 1831. The builder's plate on the engine reads
Stephan Thayer began producing fire engines in 1811 at the age of 33, taking over a business that was started by his uncle Ephriam Thayer around 1790. Ephriam was a member of Boston's Engine Co. 8 joining in 1781 and being appointed Captain in1828.Thier factory was located at 43 Orange St. in Boston, MA. Stephan gave up the business in 1860 at the age of 82. he died at the age of 90 on April 7, 1868 at he Roxbury, MA home.
It is unknown how many engine the Thayer family built but it is said to be around 100 engines. Which makes the number 193 on the builder plate of this engine very curious. The Cataract #6 is certainly not the 193rd engine built by the Thayers. Howard & Davis another manufacturer of engines at that time and a competitor of the Thayers started numbering thier engines with the number 100.
The Cataract was used at the "Great fire of 1846" on the island. It is said that the Cataract was almost directly responsible for the great extent of that fire. The men of the Cataract were located at a cistern a good distance from the fire and were begged to connect their hoses to rival Engine Co. 8, but the men refused. This allowed the fire to grow and it soon spread out fo control destroying most of the area known as "the core district".
  The Cataract was first housed on Main Street on the island of Nantucket near the Quaker Meeting House. It then moved to Center Street.  The town took control of the engine in 1884 and in 1887 it was moved to the Gardner Street Station where it remained with Hose No. 8 till 1905 which was the last known active date for Cataract No. 6. After that it was given to the Nantucket Historical Association who still has it today. It can be viewed at the Association's Macy Warehouse, 12 Straight Wharf, Nantucket Massachusetts.      
Information provided by J. Channing Egenberg, Fire Prevention Officer of the Nantucket Fire Dept 11/20/1989 and the Nantucket Historical Association.
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