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Restoring a Giant: Bringing a 115 Ton Steam Engine Back to Life

June 1, 2019 @ 7:00 am - 8:00 am

included in regular museum admission

For over a decade the National Museum of Industrial History has been working with staff and volunteers to restore a massive 115-ton stationary steam engine to working order.  Now, with the contributions of local companies and thousands of volunteer manhours, the museum’s Corliss water pumping engine runs again, 105 years after being built by the Snow Steam Pump Works in Buffalo, NY.  The engine was used by the York Water Company and pumped 8 million gallons of water a day. Today the engine, the most powerful operating water works steam engine in North America, is a focal point of the museum’s 13,000 square foot exhibit space, where it has painstakingly been repainted to its original color and mechanically restored to its former glory. On May 31st through June 2nd the museum will debut the operational engine to the public for the first time. Patrons will be able to see the engine at work and hear from museum experts and guest lecturers during special programming throughout the weekend which is generously sponsored by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and York Water Company.

On Saturday, June 1st the museum will host a special presentation at 11am with the museum’s historian offering a detailed overview of the engine’s meticulous renovation.  From pouring special reinforced concrete foundations and utilizing massive cranes to put it in place to painting the engine to its original scheme and firing it up for the first time, visitors will have a special opportunity to see what was involved in such a historic restoration and ask questions of the restoration team.   The presentation is included in regular museum admission.

On Saturday the engine will operate at 10am, 12pm, and 3pm. Prior to the 12pm demonstration, NMIH will host a ‘whistle blow’ with steam whistles from the museum’s collection. The museum will also host an all-day demonstration of scale steam engine models, demonstrating different types of engines using artifacts from the museum’s collection.


June 1, 2019
7:00 am - 8:00 am
included in regular museum admission