• A Whistle Post

  • All about the Arcade & Attica Railroad
All about the Arcade & Attica Railroad

Moderator: Benjamin Maggi

  by Mountcastle
Yes, another bad pun; sorry.

Who knows anything about the various whistles used on the steam engines of the A&A? For decades I've ridden behind 14 and behind 18 and in the cabs of each, yet it seems that I have only ever heard one whistle in all the many years I've been riding the train. I do recall hearing that when 18 is in service, they replace it's whistle with 14's whistle. If that is true, why?

Also, is anyone aware of a recording that might exist of 18's own whistle? It would be nice to hear what she's 'supposed' to sound like.

Finally, when the pre-excursion era steamers were sold for scrap, were any of the 'shiny bits' (whistles, bells, number plates) preserved, or is all lost?
  by BSOR Patarak
There is one surviving builders plate from A&A #1 (an Ex Toronto Hamilton & Buffalo) held by a private collector in western NY. I am not aware of any others....though who knows for sure.
  by Alcophile
I heard 18's whistle came off a CN locomotive. I don't anything about 14's whistle. And I don't know if what I said about 18's whistle is true. I just heard that.
  by jgallaway81
Okay, here goes.

Supposedly the real 14's whistle is in someone else's hands, who was supposed to clean & restore it. When the job came finished, the railroad couldn't make the payment, and said person still has the whistle.

The 4-chime whistle on 18 currently does, in fact, have have CNR molded into the bottom chamber.

My first picture is dated by "Boyne City Railroad Company" on the tender. Pulling a steel-ended boxcar, one would automatically think that it is pre-A&A days. however, closer examination makes one pause, as you can see a wooden structure behind the cab. It looks to possibly be the A&A shops, and the camera would have been placed near the sand house. The whistle on the engine is a 'stepped' five or six chimed unit. The 'stepped' refers to the fact that the bell is a solid casting and like the current whistle, you can see how long the chimes are because they are molded to that height. This whistle also features a valve such that the lever hung down from the valve, where-as the current whistle has the lever 'come up from' the valve.

A picture in my archives dates to Aug. 11th, 1962 shows 18 with a 3-chime whistle. This style has a 'can' shaped bell with rounded 'mouths'. The bell appears to be bolted to the whistle with the use of an acorn nut. A second picture with this whistle shows it highly polished, along with the safeties, but strangely the bell and plate are both heavily tarnished.

A picture of 14, dated as only 1972, with a nearly red orange trim on everything, white wall drivers and R.I. Cartwright under the cab numerals, actually shows TWO whistles on 14. On the engineer's side is the 4-chime currently used on 18. Unexpectedly, the other appears to mounted to the steam dome cover, alongside the twin safeties. This is the five-chime with the "down-played" lever and acorn nut crown.

Another picture (unfortunately undated) has the five-chime still on the dome, but the engineer's whistle has apparently bee swapped out for the 3-chime "tin-can" bell style whistle.

Yet another, this one from 14's arrival on the property (still has 'Escanaba & Lake Superior R.R.' on the tender, and is missing her main rod. A side note shows a level tender & identical trucks), and while the engineer's whistle isn't visible, the whistle mounted to the dome appears to be there. This may lend some support to my theory that the picture of 18 mentioned above, is in fact in Arcade, and not Michigan. The fact that the engine appears to be under steam (a wisp of smoke from the stack, as well as no visible parts missing or covered, tends to support the same conclusion.

A Don Ross pic from Aug 1st, '63 shows the engineer's side. A whistle appears mounted to the dome, but strangely absent from the pipe coming out the side of the dome. This pic is too low-res for a good determination, but appears to have the 5-chime on the dome.

So, as far as I can tell, there appears to be three distinct whistles: vintage 3-chime; cast CNR stepped 4-chime; and an acorn-topped, stepped 5-chime. Guessing: 3-chime is from pre-excursion steam, 4-chime is an unknown, and the 5-chime came in on 14.

My original research for this, came from teh images I'd scanned to my digital database. As a thought, I decided to check out my hardcopy artifacts...

A slide, dated 1971 © Fred Byerly shows 14 in Arcade with the 5-chime on the dome and the 'tin-can' 3-chime on the engineer's whistle-pipe.

A second slide, dated 06/20/73 © V.J. Porreca, also shows the 5-chime on the dome and an unknown whistle (because of angle, the whistle is blocked, but peaks over forward sand dome). Because it peaks over the dome, and the width to the apparent height, I'd guess its the 3-chime tin-can style.

Here-in lies an new twist, adding a FOURTH whistle to the mix. A postcard, with a photo by Ed. Lewis, clearly shows 14 with her two safeties, and the whistle mentioned before on the dome. It also shows what appears to be the 3-chime whistle on the engineer's side pipe. ADDITIONALLY, a clear shot of 18 in the background (14 on the center track @ the shop, 18 on the east track [away from teh sand house]) shows a whistle mounted on teh fireman's steam pipe on 18's steam dome. THIS whistle is appears to be a hybrid between the 5 & 4 chimes mentioned previously. This is a stepped 5-chime whistle, but appears to be cast, as it lacks any acorn nuts on the top. (credit: This postcard was donated to the A&A Archives by J. McClenin, from his father's, Mr. Harold Webster, collection. Along with many other items, the Archives will be updated eventually.)

A point of thought... a picture of A&A 4-6-0 #6 (pre-excurions) has what appears to be either a 2 or 3 chime 'tin-can' whistle on her dome. But, based on a height/diameter appearance, it doen't look tall enough to be the 3-chime in question, which photographic evidence clearly shows DID adorn 14.

A nice B&W pic of 14 headed to curriers clearly shows the whistle lever from the fireman's side of the cab to the whistle on the dome. I was starting to wonder if this wasn't a special safety designed to 'let you know' if all three safeties had lifted. This pic puts that fear to rest.

The pics of the doubleheader special also shows all three whistles in service... the dome mounted one on 14, one mounted on the engineer's pipe, and the second five-chime on 18.

Pics of 18 leading a mixed freight/passenger run to North Java (3-4 hoppers, a coach & 112) clearly show a fairly untarnished brass cast 5-chime whistle on 18.

Yet another color picture of 14 with 111 pulling a passenger train (ground conditions & oil tanks on stilts lead me to believe the scene is at Reisdorf's) shows 14 equipped with the cast 4-chime CNR whistle.

"The History of Railways" part 38, has a centerfold of 14 preparing to depart Curriers. (She is sitting across the crossing. Side note: her tender is starting to show signs of a forward 'droop'. Might be the springs are going) The steam and low contrast of the picture make it impossible to tell what whistle(s) is/are on 14. However, the next page has a nice 1/2 page photo of 18 @ shops. Her dome is clearly adorned with the 5-chime whistle WITH the acorn nut atop it. Strangely enough, 18 is coupled to her tender, but 14's tender sits alone on the east track, the "R.R." is clearly visible on her tank. I'd hypothesize that 14 was in the shop getting inspected before making her debut. This might account for the whistle from 14's dome being on 18.

Anyone else care to add anything?
  by BSOR Patarak
While I can not add to which whistles actually came with the two locomotives, it is my understanding that the CNR whistle was loaned or gifted from a railfan that visited early in the excursions. The individual (who is unidentified) simply wanted to hear the whistle and the A&A mounted it. It was then rumored that the whistle 14 was delivered with was too loud for the Village residents. It was said that they kept two on 14 for an "In Town" quieter whistle and the "out of town" louder one.

Not that the above clears anything up, but very interesting indeed.
  by jgallaway81
No, but it does give a little bit of a clue as to where the cast 'CNR' 4-chime unit came from.
  by BSOR Patarak
After looking over many photographs, including many mentioned by Jason, I have a few thoughts on the whistles.

1st, I don't think that 14's whistle was put on 18. Looking at photos of the locomotives on their home railroads, they both had similar stepped tops. I can't see either good enough to tell if they are 4 or 5 chime. It does appear that both made it to Arcade with their whistles in place.

To start on 18, there are two noteworthy trips where the whistle changed initially. On July 27, 1962 a special run was made, either for press, directors or both. It does not seem to be a "public" excursion. The original whistle that 18 arrived with is in place, including the pull rod going down from the valve. However, by the first public excursion on 8/11/1962 (Which seems to be very well photographed) there is the 3 chime "can" described by Jason. However, pictures taken in September and November of 1962 show the original whistle back in place. (Note 14 did not arrive in Arcade until April 1963) Perhaps this 3 chime is a "borrowed" one for the special occasion. Discussed further down, a similar style whistle was photographed on 14. I'm not convinced it is the same whistle, leading me to my theory that the 8/11/62 whistle was a temporary borrow. This discussion got me to looking at early A&A steamers to see what kind of whistles were used on them. Interestingly enough, there is a similar can type 3 chime in use on locomotive #6 in the early 1940's. It is pure speculation, but it would sure be neat to know if it was indeed the saved whistle from that locomotive. I have nothing to indicate it was. Keep in mind that by August of 1962, the A&A had made big headlines all around the US. It no doubt drew out steam enthusiasts from all over. Should a collector have acquired such an ornament off of an early A&A locomotive, the events in that era surly would have drawn them out. The original whistle from 18 did ride on 18 off and on through the 60's. The CN one that is currently on 18 arrived sometime in 1963 it appears. A picture marked "summer 1963" shows what I believe is the CN with the pull lever up. This one has straight sides at the steam exit and appears to be slightly twisted inside (See the photo below). In 1964, the "original" one is back in photos. It also rode on 14 on the engineer side pipe for a time. Early pictures of 18 can be dated by the pilot mounted. The foot board across the front with no cow catcher only remained that way during the 1962 season. By 1963, the wooden cow catcher replaced the foot boards.

Now for 14's whistle...The one did arrive mounted in it's dome. The pull rod was shaped down and went around the edge of the dome. This whistle remained in place for some time. It is very similar in shape to the one 18 was delivered with. I think this adds to the possible confusion on the whistles. It would be near impossible to tell which one is which without better measurements. It is tough to see even if they are 4 or 5 chime. One distinguishing feature is the fins between the chambers (near the openings where the steam would exit). On both "original" whistles the pieces are curved ( ) shaped like the parenthesis on the outside. As for the flat top "can" one, in November 1964 a similar one is on the engineer side of 14 (with the larger one still in the dome). I am not convinced this one is the same as the one on 18 on 8/11/1962. The top stem, or place where the nut would be to hold it down seems much taller to me. Again, the pictures are tough to get true measurements, so it is all speculation. Shortly there after, the CN whistle is on 14 on the right side for some time. The first picture I noticed the one on the dome missing is around 1984. There are photographs of 3 whistles on 14. The one off of the left side of the dome is not clear enough in my picture to compare it to the others.

I also have pictures of both locomotives sitting in front of the shop and 14's large dome whistle is in place and the similar style is mounted on 18, thus adding to my conclusion that 14's "original" whistle was not moved over to 18.

By my speculations, I can see as many as 5 different whistles. I'm guessing that the two flat types were short term loans, or they could indeed be the same. If any of these whistles were loaned, then someone would know about them and perhaps they are still around? It would be interesting for someone else to add to the mystery!

18's CN Whistle (Fall 2008)
Last edited by BSOR Patarak on Sun Jan 25, 2009 8:35 am, edited 1 time in total.
  by Benjamin Maggi
This is one of the best topics I have seen here in a while. I love tracking down stuff like this! I had to do the same type of thing when trying to figure out what snowplows went on each side of the diesel engines when I was making my models of them. And here we have several different steam whistles to move around!

One question: If this is true: "Supposedly the real 14's whistle is in someone else's hands, who was supposed to clean & restore it. When the job came finished, the railroad couldn't make the payment, and said person still has the whistle"

Why hasn't the railroad made the payment even now and reclaimed the original #14 whistle? It would be a LATE payment for sure, but is the current owner a collector or something? Is this only a rumor too? Did I miss something in the posts by Pat that explained it?

  by BSOR Patarak
The rumor about the whistle is true. It was indeed sent out as a loan for reconditioning. The individual is a collector and travels to steam shows with a nice collection of whistles. It is a loose end that still needs to be settled. It is known where it is. In time, it will be.
  by Benjamin Maggi
Sounds great! (no pun intended)
  by jgallaway81
So that everyone else can see what we are talking about, I grabbed shots of all the whistles I've been able to identify.

Since the only pic I'm sharing in its entirety is already credited, I'm not giving credit. If anyone is interested, let me know, I'll let you know what I know. Trouble is ALOT of my pics were either taken off the net (before I intended to use them for anything other than as reference for my drawings) or scanned from items I no longer have.

Anyways, here they are:

These both are scans of polaroids of 14 at the Shops. They appear to be taken one after the other, simply a slightly different angle. In these pictures, the drivers & lead wheels have white walls, ALL trim is done in a very red orange, and R.I. CARTWRIGHT in little white letters adorns the cabs directly under the number. From appearances she appears to be on the west track at the shops, and not under steam. One pic is labeled as being 1972, the other 1978. I think I messed up.

Someone snagged this picture as 14 was enroute to Curriers. A High-res scan of the picture revealed this shot of 14's steam dome.

With her main rod and valve rod missing, 14 sits forlornly in the yard at Arcade. Still wearing Escanaba & Lake Superior R.R. and the winterization hatches on the coal bunker with a caboose coupled to her tail, it's fairly safe to guess that anything in this picture came with the engine.

Sitting on the central track in front of the shop, 14 looks peaceful as her stack is occupied by the unique draft inducer used by the A&A. The picture also clearly shows the whistle on teh dome as well as the vintage 'can' style whistle on the engineer's whistle pipe.

Crossing the old Cattaraugus Creek trestle, this picture shows off 14 in all her splendor. It also shows the smaller, squatter whistle on the dome, and cast 4-chime CNR whistle on the engineer's pipe.

This picture shows 18 in all her working splendor. A slight wisp of smoke from the stack and a small cloud of steam behind the rear driver suggests that the locomotive is under steam. This picture is the one that I hypothesize might have been taken as the engine returned from the interchange (direction).

I believe this image is originally from Alcoman off the net somewhere, this closeup shows Brad in the fireman's seat as 18 moves around the train in Curriers. It also shows the short-fat 5-chime that was on 18 when she arrived.

Apparently sitting on the central track at the shop, this picture is dated Aug 11, 1962. Looking here, you can see the vintage 3-chime 'can' whistle.

Apparently this is either later or earlier in the day, because this picture is ALSO dated Aug 11th, 1962. This time sitting on the west track (today's "steam track"). Here you can see a different whistle. Take note between the whistle's bell & the steam chamber. It appears that the ribs between each chime actually curve down, meeting the chamber INSIDE the outer diameter. This suggests the possibility of a different whistle.

Coming across the trestle in town, 18 has only orange windows frames & cab number, white-wall tires and the rest is black. BUT, it shows off that vintage 3-chime can whistle.

Sitting at the shop, 18 is on the east (dead) track, 14 is on the central "diesel" track. Scanned from a postcard, a picture taken by Ed Lewis clearly shows the polished brass on 14's number plate. But, more critical to the topic, you can see a stepped 'cast' style whistle on 18. Then, jumping over to 14's dome, you can clearly see TWO whistles: a can-style whistle on the engineer's whistle pipe; and a cast 'stepped' style mounted to the dome.
  by Mountcastle
Hell's flames; I'll never cease to be utterly flabbergasted by the sheer tonnage of information that some of you have with respect to the smallest parts of every piece of the railroad's equipment! Crimony.

Well, that's all certainly very interesting (although quite alot to digest) but, despite all of that splendidly detailed and well-presented minutiae, I remain convinced that I've only ever heard one steam whistle (regardless of which locomotive was in service) in all the years (since the mid 70s) that I have ridden that train. The sound of it is utterly unmistakable and as familiar to me as the sound of my mother's voice.

Do any of you who have ridden the train from season-to-season for as many years feel the same way or can anyone actually remember hearing a distinctly different whistle?
  by jgallaway81
The only whistle I ever recall hearing is the 4-chime cast CNR whistle as show in Pat's photo above.

This video I took in the summer of 2008 demonstrates the whistle I know as 18's voice.
  by Mountcastle
That's the only whistle I've ever heard since I was a kid...and it should be pointed out, too, that the whistle sounds remarkably like Queen's harmonized "ooh-ooh-ooh" before "ready, Freddy" in "Crazy Little Thing Called Love."
  by Benjamin Maggi
Some whistles are immediately recognizible and identifyible (spelling is wrong I bet), sort of like hearing a broken off-key air horn at a railroad crossing and just KNOWING that an Amtrak train is about to pass you!