Steam calliope From SHOWBOAT WATER QUEEN
Note: (Above photo) the original letter came with an attached drawing made by “EJQ” dated 5 April 1958 with notes included “Steam calliope From SHOWBOAT WATER QUEEN. Salvaged by L. Ray Choissier 1938.  MFD. By Thomas J. Nichols, Evansville, Ohio.  Rebuilt by J. M. Van Splunter. Waterbury Conn.  Ellsworth W Somers (“Slim”)”.

 Detailed on this drawing are a Van Splunter manifold (in an “H” pattern to accommodate small location mountings like circus wagons), a Hammond Organ key set (Plastic with metal shanks) and the sizes of plumbing along with a detailed drawing of a balanced valve (with the date 1902 written on it prominently) for said calliope.

This is where the calliope came from for the DELTA QUEEN.  However, the mentioning of the calliope being that of the Showboat WATER QUEEN has faced some scrutiny in recent years.  The calliope can be traced accurately to “Slim” Sommers however; this WATER QUEEN business is very suspect.  In a photograph (below) supplied by Capt. Clarke Campbell “Doc” Hawley of New Orleans, LA. the WATER QUEEN showboat calliope is definitely a 28-note instrument.  The DELTA QUEEN calliope is a 32-note instrument.  The WATER QUEEN calliope is of construction dating before 1914 as the threaded rods supporting the whistles are of a pointed top nature, something Nichol only did before 1914.  The DELTA QUEEN calliope in contrast has rounded tops on her threaded rods.  This would indicate construction after 1914.

The WATER QUEEN Calliope
The WATER QUEEN Calliope. From the Capt. Clarke Campbell "Doc" Hawley collection.

So we are now faces with the question where did the DELTA QUEEN calliope come from.  Due to the fact Thomas J. Nichol never dated or placed serial numbers on his instruments, we may never know the true derivation of this instrument.  Most likely one could conclude, it has origins from a circus show.  If this is true, which one we will never know.


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