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Regarding calliopes - call for info, Take 1

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Old 05-30-2008, 07:52 PM
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: St. Paul, MN
Posts: 292
Blog Entries: 13
Default Regarding calliopes - call for info, Take 1

Update on the calliope research, courtesy of UST Grants Department.

Here's my first call for any info. You can email me directly at if you like.

1. Any information on the authentic Str. Alaska Queen, renovated 2007 which carries 1880s-vintage engines and recently had installed a steam calliope that appeared at Sacramento's Railfair 1999

2. Chin-du-Wan, which ran on the Sacramento from ca. 1850 to at least 1916

3. Any calliope manufacturers (steam only!) other than Stoddard/American Steam Music Co., Kratz, Wilde, Nichol, Frisbie, Davis Call. Works, Morecraft Mfg. (this can include Kirkup Co. and Van Dusen (sp?) Bellworks, which I have only a passing mention of)

4. Str. Gracie Mower, probably a towboat or rafter, referenced in Frank Fugina's "Lore and Lure"

5. Strs. Armenia, Glen Cove, Amazon, Unicorn, James Raymond, Denmark, Melnotte, Glendale, that variously claim to have been the first boats to carry a calliope (my current evidence suggests that it was NOT the Armenia, but the Glen Cove)

6. Any info on Julia Belle Swain calliope's origins, in addition to the fact that it came from the Circus World Museum

As an aside, a full week of searching through the archives at the Capt. Bill Bowell River Library has left me with more questions than answers. Welcome to the world of research.

MYSTERY OF THE WEEK: While searching through the "Merchant Vessels of the United States," we found that the Idlewild's beam is listed in 1915 as 36 feet, and beginning in 1916 and for the rest of her documentation, it is listed at 46 feet. Is this a typo, or was there a completely undocumented, major renovation?

FIND OF THE WEEK: Showboat names ran the gamut from completely uninspired to completely over-the-top. The winners so far are Bart's Big Fun Show and Buhoup's Great Floating Hindoo [sic] Pagoda, respectively.

Also an interesting "fact:" the Tall Stacks website misquotes Way's Directory and claims that there were over 9000 calliopes in use on the rivers! Just think if they had all played at once... the racket heard 'round the world.

MUCH OBLIGED for any assistance provided!

By the bye, anyone think I orta turn this weekly update into a blog, possibly hosted on (with Franz' blessing)
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