Bellevilleís Harrison "Jumbo"

"Whatís a Jumbo," you say? Why, back in 1882, P.T. Barnum bought the legendary "Jumbo the Elephant," said to be the largest in the world, from a circus in London. P.T. was quite a showman, and he figured having the biggest elephant would attract crowds to his circus. Thatís how the Africa word jumbo, meaning deity, came into the English language. The new meaning, however, was extra-large, huge, or in todayís terms, super-sized.

Meanwhile, here in Belleville, Illinois, The Harrison Machine Works was turning out grain separators and steam engines. In business since 1848, they now had a new line of steam traction engines and needed a memorable brand name. Mr. Lee Harrison received permission from Barnum to call his new steam engine "Jumbo".

Labor & Industry Museum - Belleville, Illinois History

Our Jumbo, #1486, was built in 1895. Rated at 12 horsepower, and weighing 12,000 pounds, it was indeed, a huge agriculture machine for its time. The steady diet of wood or coal, plus gallons of water, provided power for grain threshers, rock crushers and saw mills.

Purchased for $1,350.00 by William Egbert of Huntingburg, Indiana, our engine left the factory sporting yellow wheels, red moving parts, and a black boiler. The operatorís station was on the right while the flywheel was on the left. This early design was later revised to bring the flywheel to the same side as the engineer for a better view while belting up to implements.

Labor & Industry Museum - Belleville, Illinois History

Other features include 2 speeds forward but no reverse, and no brakes. A single handle enabled one man to control the machine. The 72" drive wheels weigh over 1,000 pounds each. Note the water tank mounted just in front of the smoke box and the chain drive steering system, common to engines of the era.

After purchasing this one-of-a-kind treasure from the Ford Museum in 2001, Jumboís Keepers set about restoring it to a safe and sound condition. From dismantling in January 2002 to completion and licensing nine months later, Jumboís Keepers, under the leadership of Engineer, Mike Hutsch, proved to be dependable, talented and enthusiastic. Joe Graziana, Technical Adviser from Wood River, is a life-long Harrison enthusiast who provided untold hours of expertise and encouragement. Jumbo is now thrilling spectators at the museum, during steam shows and in parades, proving that you can learn many fascinating things when you embrace history.

See more pictures of Jumbo on "The Annex" page.