WOBURN (CBS) – It happens here in Woburn. This city of 40,000 once included Wilmington, Burlington and Winchester before they broke off on their own.
“There are miles of hiking trails. You go there and you feel like you are in another state. It’s beautiful,” said Mayor Scott Galvin, describing the city’s largest recreation area.
But Mayor Galvin and other city officials didn’t realize an old relic on the edge of the pond was actually a piece of history.
“This is a double-expansion steam engine,” explained city engineer Jay Corey.
A century ago this massive three-story machine pumped water from the pond to the top of Horn Pond Mountain. The reservoir fed water to homes below until it was replaced by a well system in 1924. The machine then sat idle since then until about a week ago.
“We actually had this animal running the other day for the first time in over 95 years,” Corey said.
A local steam engine enthusiast found a few small missing parts and the city rented a portable boiler to power the machine. They flipped the switch and the giant wheel started to turn.
It’s one of only a couple of engines like this in the country that actually works.
Hundreds of people walk by this old brick building every day at the edge of Horn Pond, but step inside and it’s a trip back in time.
When we asked what the city plans to do with their find Corey said, “We are taking baby steps and refurbishing the building. We’ll look at putting it on the National Historic Register. Maybe someday it will be a museum.”
The Waterworks Museum in Chestnut Hill has several similar engines on display but those machines are not operational.