Whistleblow: Various Steamboat and Towboat Whistles

Thanks to an old LP recorded in 1965 steamboats.org can provide the sound of some famous steamboat whistles.

Gordon C. Greene built in 1923, originally named Cape Girardeau; one of the famous Greene Line Steamers retired in 1952; becoming a floating hotel; sank in 1964 at St. Louis, MO.

Sprague built in 1902 largest paddlewheel towboat ever; also it is said that the whistle is the biggest ever built for a Mississippi steamboat.

Delta Queen built in 1926 at Stockton, California. Still around on the Western Rivers; owned by the new Delta Queen Steamboat Company.

Belle of Louisville built as Idlewild in 1915 later renamed in Avalon and from 1962 on called Belle of Louisville; still in service, based in Louisville.

George M. Verity built in 1927, originally named SS Thorpe 1966 sold to the City of Keokuk, now serving as a museum there. This type of steam whistle was also used on the boats St. Lawrence, Greeneland, Tom Greene, Chris Greene and Courier, so the whistles of these boats must have had a very similar sound.

Homer Smith built in 1914, excursion boat at Point Pleasant, WV; 1928 renamed Greater Pittsburgh, burnt in 1931 whistle was also used on the Chris Greene and later – for a short time – on the Delta Queen.

W. P. Snyder jr. built in 1918; since 1955 at the Ohio River Museum, Marietta, OH; she is the last remaining sternwheel towboat fired by coal and running with steam.

Sailor towboat, built in 1924; The whistle has almost exactly the same sound as the sidewheeler Bonanza (1876). The Bonanza whistle later was used on the City of Cincinnati, the Kentucky and the Cincinnati.

Ben Hur packet, built in 1887. The whistle originally came from the George Strecker and later was transfered to the Ben Hur (built in 1887), then to the Bessie Smith, and to the Liberty (built in 1912). Lightly modified it finally was used on the towboat Mildred.

E. A. Woodruff snag boat, built in 1874, retired in 1920 and was used as a wharfboat for several years.

Queen City built in 1897, sank in January 1940; her roof bell is still in service – on the Delta Queen.

Tom Greene (image coming soon) – built in 1923, converted into a landing boat in 1950. One of the famous Greene Line Steamers; same whistle as George M. Verity, but the smallest pipe is missing – it was lost in high water conditions by hitting a bridge.

… and some whistles from other towboats:



Carrie Brown

Catharine Davis

Champion Coal

Charles T. Campbell

Coral Sea



Dewing and Sons


Eugene Dana Smith



F. M. Staunton

General Ashburn

Herbert E. Jones


Joe Cook

John W. Hubbard

Joseph E. Ransdell

Judy Q.

Katie Stockdale


Lizzie Cassell

Lucy Coles


Mary Jane

Minnie Bay


O. F. Shearer


Sallie Marmet

Sam Craig

Stella Moren

Sweet Cake