The Arkansas Messinger Engine

A Messinger engine found in Arkansas returns home to Pennsylvania.


| June/July 2017



circa-1906 Messinger engine

Paul Schmidt's circa-1906 Messinger engine.

Photo by Paul Schmidt

Circa-1906 6 hp Messinger

Manufacturer: Messinger Mfg. Co., Tatamy, PA
Year: Circa 1906
Serial Number: 272
Horsepower: 6 hp @ 300 rpm
Bore & stroke: 6in x 10in
Flywheel dia.: 40in x 3-1/2in
Weight: 1,900lb
Cooling: Hopper
Ignition: Igniter w/coil and battery
Governing: Hit-and-miss, horizontal flyball governor


Messinger engines were built by Messinger Mfg. Co. in the small town of Tatamy, Pennsylvania, from 1903 to approximately 1925. Engines were assigned a serial number as they were built regardless of the horsepower. This is the story of engine number 272, an “early style” 6 hp that made its way from Pennsylvania to Arkansas, and back home.

Engine history

Rumor has it that this engine was shipped to Sevier County in Arkansas to work on the Bellah mine by one of the prospectors, Tyler or Hippack, who reopened the mine after its closure by the North American Ore and Metal Co. in approximately 1906. It could also have been hauled to Arkansas by one of three men, Sober, Williford or Lynn, who leased the mine from about 1912 until its final closing around 1915. It is also possible it was brought to the area by an unknown prospector from Pennsylvania hoping to strike it rich mining for silver, as there were many rumors in the early 1900s of silver strikes in Arkansas, most of which turned out to be antimony, zinc and lead. The Bellah mine mainly produced zinc and lead, with traces of silver and gold. It was mined during the Civil War by the Confederacy for lead. Most men worked in the mines till they could purchase land to clear and then became farmers.

After years of service at the mine it was moved to the Mickle farm, 2 miles away, where its duty was to pump water. After it outlived its usefulness on the farm it was pushed on a pile headed for the scrap yard. Apparently, the horse-drawn portable wagon burnt, with the only wood remaining being two charred sub timbers.

In 2015 a local man, David, seeing some history and value in the engine, rescued it and took it to his farm. Doing what repairs he could, he looked for someone who knew anything about the Messinger Mfg. Co. In Arkansas, the company was unknown. He came in contact with Brian, who lives in the Easton, Pennsylvania, area near Tatamy. Brian and his brother Mark did a lot of research on Messinger through the years and collected Messinger engines.