Gardner Denver pump part of American history at National Park
Squeals of delight from children surround it. Leaves turn bright shades of amber and gold above it. Amish men use their honed craftsmanship to help restore buildings near it. Hidden behind the walls of a 1930s log building is a Gardner Denver pump that has been pumping water for 65 years to the Catoctin Mountain Park, a unit of the National Park Service.
Established in 1936 under Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidency to expand recreational areas for urban residents, Catoctin Mountain Park sits about an hour away from Washington, D.C. and Baltimore. The park contains several original structures built during the 1930s by laborers in the Work Progress Administration (WPA) and the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC). Both were national programs created by Roosevelt to employ millions of both old and young workers during the Great Depression.
“These historic structures are of national significance,” says Scott Bell, Chief of Resource Management for Catoctin Mountain Park. “Many people aren’t aware of this park, but it put a lot of people to work during the Depression. We’re currently restoring several buildings to return them to their original condition.”
The pump house was built in 1938 and supplies water to camps and administrative facilities throughout the park. According to Gardner Denver records, in 1950, the National Park Service purchased a FFFXFE pump package complete with the drive and electric motor. The pump has remained in operation in the pump house. Today, the same pump could be purchased new from Gardner Denver.
“When we’re working on a pump application, we constantly tell the customer that Gardner Denver manufactures the very best and longest lasting pumps on the market,” says Phil Shults. “To find out that 65 years after we sold the pump to the National Park Service, it is still working confirms this statement. We are very proud to know that our pump has provided a much-needed resource to park.”
In 1964, the park also became home to the first Job Corps Conservation Center as part of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s “War on Poverty.” The men lived at the area of the park now called Camp Round Meadow. Young men between 16 and 21 years of age established new trails, built picnic areas and made other park enhancements. The program allowed men to receive vocational training in order for them to get skilled jobs in the future. President Johnson and other dignitaries visited the camp.
To find out more about the park, please visit http://www.nps.gov/cato. To learn more about Gardner Denver’s pumps, please visit www.gardnerdenverpumps.com or call 1-866-GD-PUMPS.