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The speaker is a 64-year-old White man with a college education from Clarington, Ohio; he was recorded in 1968.



County: Monroe
State: OH

Commentary:
The village of Clarington is in southeastern Ohio, on the Ohio River at the border with West Virginia, and has a current population of under 400. Steamboats and their entertainment counterparts, showboats, were a much more common sight on the Ohio River during the nineteenth century than they are today. The advent of the railroad affected the popularity of the steamboat as a method of shipping and personal transportation. In this segment the speaker talks about the steamboats and showboats that operated on the river, referencing well-known boats such as the Delta Queen and the Belle of Louisville. The Belle of Louisville is still in use today and is the oldest continually operating steamboat in the United States.
Inf: Well each boat had a, uh whistle, uh, which uh, blew by steam. And uh, the packet boats tried to have a distinctive and musical sound. The people who lived along the river could tell dozens of different boats by the sound of their whistles. But that day, too, is almost past because there???s only four steamboats left on the inland rivers. And the boats that operate today are propelled by diesel engines. And they have what you might call whistles, or horns, that are somewhat similar on a larger basis to truck horns, and are blown by air. And in general they sound a great deal alike, although the boat crews do make an effort to tune their whistles and get a little distinctive note to them. But the uh, there???s a lot of steam whistles still in existence, and those are what we???ve made phonograph records of, blown actually by steam, to try and preserve that remarkable sound of the past.

FW: Well I was thinking of uh, the uh, there???s, down at the museum there, there???s uh, a whole set of whistles or something. They play ???em on a console.

Inf: Well that???s a calliope [pronc: cal-EYE-oh-pee], or on a showboat and in a circus, it???s called a calliope [pronc: CAL-ee-ope]. That???s a set of twenty-four or thirty-two steam whistles, which are played with a keyboard. And uh, there are few, a few of them still in existence. There???s very few showboats left, but the steamer Delta Queen has a calliope, and the Belle of Louisville has a calliope. The one in the Marietta River Museum is from the famous Bryant showboat, which used to operate on the river and one-night stands at each of the towns with some sort of a theatrical production to present. The river used to have a large number of showboats, but of course they???re another relic of the past today.

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