Out of School? Bored with news - Here's a unique bit of history

April 9 2020 | Whats New


Before radio, TV, and the internet were invented, steamboats went town to town delivering and picking up mail, products, and people. Much like an old-age Amazon. But how would you know when it would arrive in your town without email or text messaging?   It was the Calliope on board those boats that you could hear miles away.

 A steam calliope’s music not only comes across as Americana, upbeat, circus-excitement, it is a visual music!  It is often compared or referred to as a steam organ. A plume of steam shoots upward from each whistle played. The NATCHEZ calliope has synchronized colored lights that illuminate each time any given note (whistle) is struck. The instrument actually puts on an audiovisual show. It is a testament to musical skill to play this extraordinary instrument.   The steam calliope is not merely to attract attention, although it certainly does that, but it is the continuity of a unique American tradition.  The Steamboat NATCHEZ, christened in 1975, has a steam calliope that is an exact copy of Thomas J. Nichols Steam Calliopes that were built nearly a century ago.