Steam Whistle Concert

| January/February 1962


A unique 'Concert' of steam whistles from past steamboats, trains, industrial plants and other sources, was the feature of the second annual Schweizer ( native of Switzerland) Fest held in Tell City, Indiana Monday night, August 1, 1960. Arranged by Bert Fenn, vice-president of the Tell City Historical Society and also vice-president of the Tell City Chair Co., the whistles were blown on the roof of the chair company factory, whose boilers supplied the steam.

Of special interest to visiting river-men were the steamboat whistles that had been loaned for the occasion. Prominent among them was the whistle from the St. Louis and New Orleans Anchor Line steamer Gold Dust, a large single-chime brass whistle, with a bell 24 inches high by 7 inches in diameter. The Gold Dust is the vessel on which Mark Twain made a trip from St. Louis to Vicksburg, in 1882, commemorating his return to the river after an absence of 21 years and which he described in 'Life on the Mississippi. '

These whistles were loaned by museums, libraries, and collectors. You were to bring your tape recorder and make a record of this event. Programs were given out so that you had a complete description of where each whistle came from. The concert was at 5:00 p.m. and you did not have to be close to hear it.

Probably the biggest whistle was a wildcat whistle from the Langstaff Planing Mill, Paducah, Ky. which had a bell 30 inches long and 9 inches in diameter. The plunger travels 20 in.

There were several tow boat whistles and eight whistles from steam locomotives. Mr. and Mrs. Leonard Mann of Otterbein, Indiana were among the steam enthusiasts who journeyed to this event, on the Ohio River.