Saturday, October 18, 2003

Timeline of the early calliope



1851: William Hoyt of Dupont, Ind., invents the calliope.

1855: Joshua Stoddard, a Vermont farmer/inventor, obtains the first U.S. patent and founds the American Steam Music Co.

1856: Stoddard mounts his calliope on a church steeple during winter. The steam pipes freeze. When the calliopist plays it, it explodes and blows the steeple off the church.

Circus king P.T. Barnum makes the calliope famous when he mounts it on a circus wagon.

1858: First steam calliope on an Ohio River boat, the Unicorn. Calliopes were mounted on top decks or steam towboats. Its purpose was to hail the arrival of the showboats, and alert the townsfolk about the evening's performance.

Most early calliopes had a small range (13 to 20 whistles). Many had 32 whistles, and the largest had 588. (Source: New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians)

Made in Cincinnati

With the long history of music in Cincinnati, it's not surprising to learn that 90 percent of all steam calliopes heard on American waterways were built in Cincinnati.

"Of all the historic steam calliopes still existing in playable condition, all are Thomas J. Nichol originals," says Travis Vasconcelos, calliopist and "riverlorian" on the Mississippi Queen.

Nichol built calliopes from 1890 to 1932. He originally worked for the Van Duzen foundry, where he made castings for steamboat whistles and church bells. He left the company, established Nichol Valve Co. and built calliopes.

His calliopes sound "sweeter" than others because he made the whistle bells (the resonant column) out of rolled copper. Most other builders used brass.




TALL STACKS
Photo gallery
On the Delta Queen, history takes its time
Calliopes blast out that shrill, sweet song
Three boats boast authentic calliopes
Timeline of the early calliope
Tall Stacks hits high note with music performers, fans
Family troupe tells slaves' life
Daily schedule
Riverboat crowd swoons over Elvis
Civil War recruiters at work
Honeymooners revel in romance of river
Lavish ships with luscious edibles
NKU troupe dances below Newport levee
To artists, bridge just far enough
It's no easy ride for busy boat staff

TOP STORIES
Theft suspect dies in struggle with van owner
Coyne can run, but not serve
City's new riverfront becomes visible

IN THE TRISTATE
Ballpark eatery falls silent
Sharonville pool to include flume slides
Montgomery event honors its international residents
Family agency votes to strike
Regional Report

ENQUIRER COLUMNISTS
Howard: Good Things Happening

BUTLER, WARREN, CLERMONT
Butler DUI force called success
Trustee candidates debate issues related to growth
Fairfield hears complaint: Too noisy
Candidates differ on Warren growth

OBITUARIES
Mickey Kaplan dedicated life to arts, giving

OHIO
Ohio Moments

KENTUCKY
Chart House closes 'for renovations'
Father testifies against his son
Eliminating primary considered