American LaFrance Artifacts Not Included in Auction

Artifacts once belonging to American LaFrance will not be part of Berkeley County’s auction of the distressed company’s equipment.

American LaFrance abruptly closed its Moncks Corner location and two other locations Jan. 17, leaving behind nearly $650,000 in debt to the county.

The Independent learned of a collection without equal in the fire apparatus-manufacturing world – one that dates back to the Civil War. Last Monday, an archivist from Pennsylvania reached out to the newspaper, trying to determine if the artifacts would be auctioned off as the county seeks to recoup back taxes from the shuttered manufacturer.

However, the artifacts were never located to the Moncks Corner facility. Originally housed in New York and then later in Summerville, when American LaFrance moved to Moncks Corner last year, it donated the collection to the North Charleston Fire Museum, according to Ryan Johnson with the City of North Charleston.

The collection has not been inventoried and is not on public display, Johnson said.

Nearly a decade ago, Society for the Preservation and Appreciation of Antique Motor Fire Apparatuses archivist Ed Peterson laid eyes on what he called “a huge collection” when American LaFrance moved to its Summerville facility. Now that the company left that location and has had its equipment confiscated by Berkeley County in Moncks Corner, Peterson and other collectors around the nation were concerned about where the collection went.

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