Now Owned by the Oakdale Historical Society


     This is the story of a 1953 Van Pelt Pumper-Tanker and how it came to the Oakdale Historical Society and as a result returned to its birthplace after 36 years of use. This fire truck was ordered from the Van Pelt Fire Apparatus Co. by the Cotati Fire District on July 16, 1953 as shown by a scanned copy of a Van Pelt Inventory and Sales Record. The Van Pelt Company manufactured the fire apparatus with a 1200 gallon tank with a 350 GPM pump and a shift of a five and two on a 1953 GMC chassis in accordance to the specifications requested by the Cotati Fire District. It appears that the yellow painted Cotati Fire Truck was delivered or driven away on December 28, 1953.  The history of its use and other important records have been requested from the Cotati Fire District "Alumni" on Facebook but nothing has been received at this time.

     We are of the opinion that eventually, for one reason or another, the Van Pelt Pumper-Tanker was sold to the Camp Meeker Volunteer Fire District as this district's logo was on the two doors when the Oakdale Historical Society received the fire truck.  At this time the date of sale etc. is unknown as is the history or record of its use.  It is however documented that it was listed for sale in a April 1987 Desi's Fire Equipment sales flyer. It appears the listing is in error as the truck was built in 1953. It states that  the truck had been driven 9000 miles and had lots of equipment. The sale price is listed at $7000.00.

     The 1953 Van Pelt Pumper-Tanker was purchased by a gentleman in Tracy who used the vehicle in his building contractor business. When he decided that he had no more use for the fire truck he donated the vehicle to the Oakdale Historical Society under the provisions of the society's IRS 501(c) donation status for non-profit organizations. The fire truck was driven back to its birth-place and began a new life of entertaining and educating the public.

     After receiving the wonderful gift of an historic Van Pelt fire truck produced in the town of Oakdale the historical society then had the problem of what to do with it and where to store it. An appeal was made to the city council and it was denied. An appeal was made to the nearby Valley HomeVolunteer Fire District and it was denied due to internal problems at the time. A successful appeal was made to the Oakdale Rural Fire District and the historic Van Pelt Pumper-Tanker was placed into service at the Knights Ferry Station as a backup unit for their regular unit. Here it stayed for about two years and then it was necessary again to find the fire truck a home. A successful appeal was made to the local Gambini Nut Company where it was stationed at their nearby Shady Lawn Park and the truck became a great attraction for the summer youth learning programs that were held at the park.  But this too eventually ended and the truck went back to the Gambini Nut Co. farm where it was stored until the Oakdale Historical Society wanted to have the vehicle more active in the community. The Van Pelt Pumper-Tanker is currently housed at the premises of the president of the society who is working on a limited renovation. (Sep. 2011)



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