Old Ship Steam Whistles Are Played In Concert

Live Steam Voices

Arden Scott's Live Steam Voices in New York Harbor, May 21, 1987. Photo by McCamy.


Content Tools

Steam traction collectors have heard their whistles play tunes, but now a new kind of concert has been introduced on water, based on whistles from old ships.

The first concert by this assemblage was played on a barge in New York harbor in May 1987. Now a whole new set of concerts will be played on the New York State Barge Canal system, starting May 14.

The whistles have been salvaged from scows and barges, tugs and Liberty ships, among others. The biggest is from the famed steamer Norman die three chambered, weighing 660 pounds, able to emit a low roar that can be heard 10 miles away in open sea.

Who dreamed this up? Ms Arden Scott, a steam engineer and a bunch of tugboat captains and harbor pilots.

There is no set 'music' sheet to follow. The whistles are pulled one at a time, and what you hear is what you get. Ms. Scott says steam whistles are far superior to air horns. Some of the whistles used are from her own collection.

The title of the new presentation is 'Live Steam Whistles Salute the Empire State'. High school marching bands will join in performances at various stops along the route.

The barge will be towed along the canal system for 505 miles in three weeks. Opening day, May 14, has the barge at South Street Seaport, New York City. It moves to Poughkeepsie May 15. Among the many other stops will be Schenectady, May 17; Utica, May 22, Rochester, May 31, and Buffalo, June 5 for the closing.

IMA was told about this by A. D. Mast, of Lancaster, a friend of Stemgas, who was asked by Ms. Scott to find a steam manifold.