Steam Whistle Concert

By Staff

No. 18

STR. CASABLANCA. During World War II a series of steam propeller
tow boats were built for the Defense Plant Corp. which have since
been known to river men as the ”DPC’s’. This one
was built in 1944 and immediately chartered to the American Barge
Line who then bought her in 1946. The CASABLANCA worked
continuously until retired last year and is now scheduled to be
made into a dredge. Her cast iron 3-chime whistle was taken off
just for this concert by River Service of Jeffersonville,

No. 19

AUCTION WHISTLE No. 1 is a brass 3-chime whistle with valve. The
bell length is 8′. Nothing is known of its history it looks old
and sounds good. This whistle will toe auctioned off to the highest
bidder at the Schweizer Fest Beer Garden August 1st at 7:30

No. 29

THE TELL CITY SPOKE CO. was founded in 1889, located in the area
now occupied by the Maxon yard on the south side of the flood wall.
In 1900, according to an old newspaper report, this firm employed
25 men and turned out 5,000 finished spokes daily that is, spokes
for Wagon Wheels. This whistle, loaned by Pete Ziegler of Tell
City, hasn’t been heard for several score years.

No. 21

name of the older company because it has rarely been blown since
this old Tell City factory was reactivated as the William Tell
Woodcrafters. In fact, this whistle will be a big surprise to many
Tell Citians who do not remember it as a wildcat. John Knaebel
tells us this is not the original whistle of this firm which was
founded 1873. He helped install it in 1917 when an addition was
made to the plant. While not positive, he believes it was the
original whistle of our Water Works, replaced by the present fire
whistle or curfew. Loaned by William Tell Woodcrafters, Tell

No. 22

L & N 1878 was a Mikado type freight engine built in the
late 1920’s, and used in mainline freight service all her life.
She had about 150 sisters enough like her, you had to see their
numbers to tell them apart. This 3-chime whistle was loaned by Alan
L. Bates of Louisville.

No. 23

TRUCK EXHAUST HORN. In earlier days, autos and trucks were not
to be outdone by steamboats and locomotives, and many of them were
fitted with whistles such as this one, which operated on their
manifold or exhaust. Wilbert Berger mentioned the other day that
the Tell City Brewing Co. had an exhaust horn on its old
solid-tired International Truck. It was mounted under the running
board. The one on our concert is marked ‘Fulton Aermore Exhaust
Horn No. 00′ and was loaned by James Reising of Louisville,
Kentucky. This is a cluster of four separate whistles, the largest
being 18’ long and 13/8‘ in diameter.
We cannot guarantee its carrying power, and are putting 200 lbs. of
steam into it with no little trepidation.

No. 24

THE TOW BOAT TOM PUSH was a diesel boat, nevertheless she
carried this Steam Whistle, blowing it with air, because Capt.
Hershel Moore happened to like it. And we might add that it’s a
pretty big whistle to be blowing with air. This brass Single-chime
whistle is a veteran of previous Steamboats. Loaned by Bert Fenn of
Tell City.

No. 25

STR. JOHN W. HART was built in 1890, owned by Lovell Brothers,
wholesale grocers of Nashville, Tenn. She operated chiefly on the
upper Cumberland River, making regular trips between Nashville and
Burnside, Ky. (Look that city up on a map and you’ll be
surprised how far ‘inland’ some of these boats wandered.)
She was a good light draft boat and served Tell City occasionally
as a low water packet. On April 5, 1897 she burned near Granville,
Tenn. This whistle had been mounted between her smoke stacks and
was recovered after the fire, was used on various sawmills and
finally on the L. T. Stone Lumber Co. of Cookeville, Tenn. until
1956. Somewhere along the line this whistle was blown over in a
high wind and the small whistle damaged. Courtney M. Ellis of
Nashville, Tennessee who loaned the whistle has replaced it with a
larger one and doesn’t guarantee that this will produce the
exact sound of the JOHN W. HART. Nevertheless two-thirds of this
whistle is ‘right off the boat’, as there are three
single-chime whistles on a manifold mounting.

No. 26

AUCTION WHISTLE No. 2 is a brass single-chime whistle with
valve. It has a 5′ bell, 3′ in diameter. This one likes
less than 200 lbs. of steam but we’ll try to make it sound
pretty. Will go to the highest bidder at the Beer Garden August 1st
at 7:30 P.M.

No. 27

NEW YORK CENTRAL WHISTLE. This most unusual whistle is a cast
brass 5-chime whistle, which is to say it is five separate chambers
in one casting, all of which blow simultaneously from one
‘bowl’. It is marked P & L E, which was a NYC
subsidiary, but somehow ended up on a Winslow, Algiers &
Western engine in Indiana. Loaned by Dr. Howard Blackburn of
Louisville, Ky.

No. 28

STR. C. C. SLIDER was a stern wheel tow boat built in 1928 for
the E. T. Slider Co. of Louisville. She was familiar for many years
around this area and was dismantled in 1952 in the local Maxon
yard. Walt Paulin of Tell City loaned this whistle and says
it’s the C. C. Slider’s. There are two 3-chime whistles on
a T mounting, so you’ll hear six notes when this one sounds

No. 29

SOUTHERN ENGINE No. 6282 was a freight engine that ran between
Louisville and Danville, Ky. Her 3-chime cast iron whistle is
loaned by E. G. Baker of Louisville, Kentucky.

No. 30

THE TELL CITY DESK CO. was founded in 1890 and one of the
principal organizers was Clay Switzer, Tell City’s Wharfmaster.
Capt. Switzer got this whistle for the new factory from a steamboat
whose name is forgotten. In daily use until 1953, this whistle was
removed when the Tell City Chair Company bought the Desk Company
properties, and the whistle substituted was the original from the
Chair Makers Union Factory No. 1. This brass 3-chime whistle is
loaned by Bert Fenn, Tell City.

No. 31

with this 285 ft. side wheel boat when he drew scale model plans of
her long after she had burned. In researching his plans he had
contacted Capt. Jesse P. Hughes who dug down into his treasure
trove of memories and records and came up with the dimensions of
her whistles, Capt. Jesse had made this record because he himself
liked the INDIANA’S whistle so much that he’d had it copied
for the TACOMA. Later the TACOMA’S whistle was altered by
adding a very small fourth whistle. Anyway, Alan worried this thing
around for years until he concluded he’d never be completely
happy without hearing what the INDIANA sounded like blowing for a
landing. He altered a 3-chime whistle to the proportions of the
INDIANA’S and will hear it for the first time during this
concert. No one knows what it will sound like and if Capt. Jesse or
some other old-timer isn’t present perhaps we’ll never know
if it’s a fair imitation.

This INDIANA whistle was a favorite in the Louisville to
Cincinnati area. It was built originally for the MINNIE BAY in
1883, passed on to the SHERLEY and then to the INDIANA when she was
built in 1900. The whistle was lost when the INDIANA burned in
1916. The original whistle was made up of three separate whistles
9′, 12′ and 18′ long. The whistle in our concert is a
3-chime whistle altered to those lengths and loaned by Alan L.
Bates of Louisville, Ky.

No. 32

STR. CHRIS GREENE. This whistle was made by the Heslop Machine
Shop at Pt. Pleasant, West Virginia, to the specifications of Capt.
C. C. Bowyer for the excursion steamer HOMER SMITH. When Capt.
Bowyer sold the HOMER SMITH he retained the whistle and presented
it to the Greene Line for use on their new packet CHRIS GREENE. She
carried this whistle all her working life, from 1926 until 1947.
Later this whistle was used for a year or so on the DELTA QUEEN but
has since been replaced with her original whistle. The CHRIS GREENE
and the TOM GREENE were the last packets in service between
Louisville and Cincinnati. The CHRIS GREENE is now used as a boat
club opposite Cincinnati and can be seen there today. The whistle
is quite large, composed of three separate whistles on a branch
mounting, the largest having a bell 27′ high and 8′ in
diameter. Loaned by the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton
County, Cincinnati, Ohio.

No. 33

surely must be the grand daddy of all wildcat whistles it’s the
largest anyone has remembered seeing. The bell is 30′ long and
9′ in diameter. The plunger travels 20′. The Langstaff Mill
was located on the Tennessee Chute in Paducah and ceased operations
about 1939. Courtney M. Ellis of Nashville, Tennessee who loaned it
for the concert has never heard it, but was so impressed when he
first saw it he worked for eleven years to acquire it and has
waited another ten years to hear it today. To which we can only add
that having seen it our self we’re sure we couldn’t be that
patient. It’s a lulua one-of-a-kind made out of pipe and iron,
by either a genius or Rube Goldberg himself.

No. 34

STENTORIAN FINALE, a pandemonium of ten whistles blown
simultaneously, producing thirty different sounds, to which will be
added the wails of the Giant Heul Hund. Guaranteed to leave you


Only because of the generosity and interest of the organizations
and collectors who have loaned their whistles has this concert been

Produced by Tell City Historical Society, Inc. Directed by BERT

Whistles will be blown by the staff and various whistle

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Farm Collector Magazine
Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment