- The steam calliope is a steam-whistle musical insturment
with a loud, shrill sound
- audible miles away. It is used to attract attention for
circuses, fairs, and arriving steamboats. On October, 9 1855,
the United States Patent Office issued Patent #13,668 to Joshua
C. Stoddard of Worcester, Massachusetts for an instrument producing
music by passing steam or compressed air through steam-whistles.
The Worcester City Council banned him from playing it within
the city limits because it was too loud.
- On August, 8 1858, a steam calliope was first fitted on
a boat, which was a steamer
- called the Union. Stoddards first calliope
had fifteen steam-whistles, today, average calliope has 32 whistles.
The riverboat Mississippi Queen has the worlds
largest calliope, with 44 whistles. In the heyday of the riverboat,
there were 9,000 calliopes on the Ohio and Mississippi River
- The steam calliope requires a boiler that delivers steam
to a set of whistle pipes.
- Riverboats generally had ample steam. Wagon mounted calliopes
(like the circus calliopes) required a separate boiler to generate
the steam. A keyboard (similar to an organ keyboard) is used
to direct the steam to the proper whistle pipes, however, a pinned
cylinder could be used in lieu of the musician.
- For more information, don't miss the Mechanical
Music Digest's Calliope Home