Geyser (fireboat, 1886)

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The Geyser was a steam powered fireboat built for Chicago, Illinois in 1886.[1] Chicago had operated three earlier vessels, as fireboats, but they had all been retrofits. The Geyser was specifically designed as a fireboat, after Fire Marshall Denis J. Swenie visited eastern cities to learn from their purpose-built fireboats.

The vessel was designed to be able to break ice, as necessary, so it could operate in the winter.[1]

When Chicago added the Yosemite to its fleet of fireboats, it was reported to have been the same size as the Geyser, but "...has more power as a waterthrower.".[2]

In 1903 the Geyser was renamed the Denis J. Swenie.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Josiah Seymour Currey. Chicago: its history and its builders, a century of marvelous growth (Volume v.2), Clarke publishing Company, p. 39. Retrieved on 2012-12-13. (in English) “All these so-called fireboats, however, were makeshifts. The Geyser was specially constructed as a river fireboat in 1886, chiefly through the earnest efforts of Fire Marshal Swenie. Swenie had been ordered to visit New York and other eastern cities to examine the fireboat service there. On his return the Geyser was built at an expense of $39,000. The Geyser was also used to open up the river in winter, and in 1887, she rendered splendid service in this way when the river was gorged with ice during the winter, and the flood of 1849 was likely to have been repeated.”
  2. (1890) The Indicator, Volume 9 (in English). Detroit, Michigan: The Indicator. “Chicago will soon put another fire boat, the Yosemite, in commission. She is the same size as the Geyser, but has more power as a waterthrower. This will make three powerful fire boats for the protection of Chicago's docks and shipping. When will Detroit have a fire boat?”