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As Long as We Remember...

September 12, 2012

A Cause for Celebration

Kevin E. Dayhoff

This Saturday and Sunday the Union Bridge Fire Company will celebrate 125 years of service to the community with an open house, parade, and antique fire apparatus display.


Historically, citizens usually come together for public safety and protection, commerce, education, worship and to fulfill social needs. Fire companies in Frederick and Carroll County have long been the heart and soul of our communities.


More often than not, communities formed fire departments long before a local government or police department was organized. Frequently the leadership of a community is also the leadership of the local fire company and the local firehall is often the center of social activity.


The Union Bridge Fire Company is considered to be the second oldest of the 14 volunteer fire companies in Carroll County. Only The Westminster Fire Engine and Hose Company No. 1, which formally first organized in 1823, is older.


On March 10, 1887, the Union Bridge Fire Company formally organized with 30 volunteers; just 15 years after the Maryland General Assembly approved the charter of the town on May 2, 1872.


The beginnings of the town, which was known for years as Buttersburg, date back to 1731. It is one of the earliest settlements in Frederick and Carroll County.


In 1772, the Old Pipe Creek Friends Meeting House was built at the edge of town and was visited by President Herbert Hoover, according to a fire department website history.


When Carroll County was established from Frederick and Baltimore counties on January 19, 1837, Union Bridge was situated just across the Frederick County line.


According to the fire department web history, in 1811, Jacob R. Thomas designed and built the world's first reaping machine in the Union Bridge area.


“World renowned sculptor William Rinehart, known as the last American sculptor to use a classical style, was born in Union Bridge in 1825. His work can be seen in Washington, Rome, and Baltimore… Union Bridge was also the first incorporated town to have electric street lights in the United States.”


The name of the town was changed when a bridge was built over Little Pipe Creek. The US Postal Service renamed the town “Union Bridge” to commemorate the unity between the north and south sides of the community.


In 1862 the Western Maryland Railroad established its headquarters in the town and extensive workshops and facilities to support the operation of the railroad were built.


The need for a fire department became evident when, again according to the website history, “town of Union Bridge suffered its first major fire loss on December 3, 1868, when the Western Maryland Railroad Shops burned with a total loss of buildings and contents…”


The destruction of the train yard was a shock to the community “since it was the main employer for the town’s citizens. Over the next few years, the town purchased two extension ladders, two hooks and fifteen rubber buckets, which were kept in a shed in the Western Maryland Railroad yards…”


Over the years there have been many changes. “In 1893, a meeting was held in Frederick by several fire companies from across Maryland. The Union Bridge Fire Company became a Charter Member of the Maryland State Firemen’s Association, along with 11other fire companies from across the state…


“The Fire Company remained on Main Street until January of 1925, when the building was sold and the town hall on E. Broadway was purchased for $3,500 when the department got its “first piece of motorized equipment, a 1925 Stutz pumper….


“In 1947, the company took on a new role, a service that the local funeral home had provided for many years. An ambulance was donated by D. D. Hartzler & Sons Funeral Home so that injured or ill people could be taken to the hospital in Frederick. The donated ambulance was soon replaced by a brand new Buick ambulance in 1948.”


The Union Bridge Fire Company will celebrate its beginnings and all the changes that have occurred over the years this weekend.


At 10 A.M. on Saturday, the fire company will conduct an open house, a rededication of the buildings and a memorial service at the fire station at 8 West Locust Street in town. Antique fire apparatus will be on display until 5 P.M. On Sunday, the open house and antique fire apparatus display will open at noon.


According to a press release, “The Anniversary Parade has been scheduled for Sunday, September 16, starting at 1 PM…


“The parade will begin at the intersection of MD Route 75 and Main Street. It will proceed south on MD Route 75 to Broadway Street, right onto West Broadway Street to Whyte Street, left on Whyte Street to West Locust Street, left on West Locust Street to Penrose Avenue, right on Penrose Avenue and end in front of the United States Post Office… The parade will start promptly at 1 P.M.


After the parade, the open house and the antique display will continue until 5 P.M. For more information go to the Union Bridge Fire Company website at:


There can be no community without public safety. Firefighters, police officers, and public works employees are the dedicated public servants who help provide the necessary protective umbrella over a community as people go about the business of family, commerce, worship, and education.


However, the public safety personnel cannot do this essential work without the support of the community.


I hope to see you in Union Bridge this weekend.


I’m just saying…


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