Antique Luverne Fire Truck Pride of Town

1923 Luverne fire truck is South Dakota town's pride and joy.


| September 2013



Luverne Fire Truck

The 1923 Luverne is displayed at the Pumphouse Museum in a building that housed Delmont's first fire station. 

Photo By Loretta Sorensen

“The boys came into town Sunday night with their new purchase with the bell clanging and siren open and are mighty proud of the truck and promise any fires breaking out from now on a very sudden death.” 

When the southeastern South Dakota town of Delmont bought a nearly 20-year-old Luverne fire truck in June 1941, it was front page news in the Delmont Record. Describing the purchase as “much needed,” the article went on to conclude that “Delmont need no longer take a back seat to any of the surrounding towns when it comes to firefighting equipment.”

While the intensity of that initial excitement may have faded over the past 72 years, the vintage pumper truck remains a prized piece of local history. Kevin Hanten is a lifelong resident of the Delmont area and a 34-year member of Delmont’s Volunteer Fire Department, which was organized in 1903. During 18 years as fire chief, he never had the opportunity to use the Luverne to fight a fire but recalls seeing it on the scene of numerous fires in the past.

“We haven’t had many major fires here,” he says. “We had an elevator fire and a couple of house fires, and the Luverne was used at all of those. The last time the Luverne was at a fire was in 1984, when the Delmont Inn burned down.” By 1994, the Luverne had been pushed aside. Newer fire trucks had been added to the department’s fleet and the Luverne a relic of the past was retired.

State of the art

According to an article in the Delmont Record, the used truck was purchased in 1941 from W.H. Griffen, Luverne, Minn., a dealer in fire department and municipal supplies. The $650 purchase price ($10,300 today) was paid by the city of Delmont, which contributed $350, and Delmont’s fire department, which chipped in $300. When new, the truck sold for $6,750 ($91,952 today).

The truck was equipped with a 250-gallon-per-minute triple-action pump. Its chemical tank was supported by 100 feet of hose, ladders and extinguishers. Even as a secondhand addition to the fire department’s fleet, the nearly 20-year-old truck was a major step forward in technology.