August 17, 2017 – The Southern Oregon Historical Society is pleased to announce the donation of Ashland’s “Amphibious Fire Engine.” The engine acquired its unusual nickname during the 1948 Ashland flood. While preparing to pump out the basement of Weitzel’s department store on the Ashland Plaza, the bridge at the entrance to Lithia Park gave way and the bridge collapsed. The engine was unceremoniously dumped into the creek – there were no injuries, but the pumper spent more than a day submerged under the turbulent waters of a swollen Ashland Creek. The July 8 issue of the Ashland Daily Tidings reported that the submerged fire engine’s red warning light had “…remained lighted until 2:30 this morning.” Once the engine was lifted from the creek, it was disassembled and the motor was overhauled by Ashland’s Ford dealer, Jim Busch Sales.

In the mid-1970s, the fire engine was purchased by Keith Newton, a Medford resident. Its colorful history includes the role it played in the wedding of Lee Newton’s sister, Lisa. The vehicle was polished for the last time, and the newlyweds rode the engine “…from the ceremony held at the Presbyterian Church in Jacksonville to their wedding reception.” After that, the fire engine was parked on the Logue property in Shady Cove, where it remained until its donation to the Southern Oregon Historical Society in the summer of this year, 2017.

September 23, join us – get to know a 70-year-old piece of Southern Oregon history. Climb on it, sit behind the wheel, operate the siren, and honk the horn! And, if the spirit moves you, polish as much of the paint or chrome as you’d like!!!! We invite you to attend our open house, and if you have stories you would like to share, please, bring them with you.

Amphibious Fire Engine Open House:

September 23, 10am-4pm, 3263 Biddle Road (at Lawnsdale, across from the Medford Airport)

For more information, to make a donation, or to volunteer to help with restoration, visit:, OR . . . contact Rick Black at 541-499-1356; Lee Newton at 541-840-5568; George Kramer at 541-482-9504; or Ben Truwe at 541-773-8369.