History of the Coolspring Power Museum

The museum's origin goes back to the early 1950s and the efforts of two collectors: Paul Harvey and John Wilcox.  As their collections grew, significant pieces were gathered in a series of buildings in Coolspring, Pennsylvania.  The April 2015 edition of The Flywheel tells the story of the early days of the collection in Coolspring.

Model 4 Klein Arriving  Completed Engine House

Through the years, and with the help and encouragement of many other individuals, this collection became the Coolspring Power Museum.  The museum was formally chartered in June 1985 as a registered, tax exempt, nonprofit, corporation.  During the years since the founding, membership has grown steadily.  So has the collection housed at Coolspring.  Many other engine enthusiasts have placed significant pieces at Coolspring for display.  The grounds, as well as semi-annual shows, have expanded with visitors from Maine to California, as well as from Canada, England, and other countries.

The Coolspring Collection of historic internal combustion stationary gas engines is the largest, mechanically most interesting, and historically significant in the entire country.

At this time, the museum is housed in more than 20 buildings that, besides its own large collection, contain many pieces placed there on loan.  Total inventory is about 275 engines with a significant number permanently mounted and operational.  The museum acquires most of its collection by gift, however a substantial part of its operating budget has been spent on moving and other acquisition costs.


The History and Heritage Landmarks Program of ASME

The History and Heritage Landmarks Program of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) began in 1971.  To implement and achieve its goals, ASME formed a History and Heritage Committee initially composed of mechanical engineers, historians of technology, and the curator (now emeritus) of mechanical engineering at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.  The History and Heritage Committee provides a public service by examining, noting, recording, and acknowledging mechanical engineering achievements of particular significance.  This committee is part of ASME's Center for Public Awareness.  For further information, please contact the History and Heritage Committee, c/o ASME Public Awareness, Two Park Avenue, New York, NY 10016, or telephone 212-591-8614.


Coolspring Power Museum

Mechanical Engineering Heritage Collection Designation

Since the ASME began its History and Heritage Landmarks Program in 1971, it has designated over 250 artifacts, collections, and places as historic mechanical engineering landmarks, heritage collections, and heritage sites.  Each represents a progressive step in the evolution of mechanical engineering and its significance to society in general.  Site designations note an event of development of clear historic importance to mechanical engineers.  Collections mark the contributions of a number of objects with special significance to the historical development of mechanical engineering.

The Landmarks Program illuminates our technological heritage and encourages the preservation of the physical remains of historically important works.  It provides an annotated roster for engineers, students, educators, historians, and travelers.  It helps establish persistent reminders of where we have been and where we are going along divergent paths of discovery.

The 140,000-member ASME is a worldwide engineering society focused on technical, educational, and research issues.  ASME conducts one of the world's largest publishing operations, holds some 30 technical conferences and 200 professional development courses each year, and sets many industrial and manufacturing standards.

In 2001, the ASME designated the Coolspring Power Museum as a Mechanical Engineering Heritage Collection.  The dedication ceremony for the museum took place on June 16, 2001.  Representatives of the ASME presented Coolspring Power Museum with a plaque recognizing the significance of the museum's collection.

The plaque below is proudly displayed on a vintage light standard in front of the Susong Building at Coolspring Power Museum.

 

MECHANICAL ENGINEERING HERITAGE COLLECTION

COOLSPRING POWER MUSEUM

THIS IS THE LARGEST COLLECTION OF HISTORICALLY SIGNIFICANT STATIONARY INTERNAL COMBUSTION ENGINES IN THE UNITED STATES. A MAJORITY OF THESE MECHANICALLY INTERESTING ENGINES WERE BUILT BETWEEN 1890 AND 1920 AND USED IN INDUSTRIAL APPLICATIONS.

THIS COLLECTION DOCUMENTS THE EARLY HISTORY AND EVOLUTION OF THE INTERNAL COMBUSTION ENGINE.  MANY COMPONENTS OF TODAY'S ENGINES HAVE THEIR ORIGINS IN THE PERIOD REPRESENTED BY THIS COLLECTION

THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF MECHANICAL ENGINEERS - 2001

 

Please read more about the ASME's Landmarks program and Coolspring Power Museum's recognition under that program.  A copy of the brochure from the dedication ceremony is also available.


 

Copyright 2016 by Coolspring Power Museum