Funds sought for noon whistle
Mainstreet taking donations to restore historic downtown siren
How to help
Contributions to save the noon whistle should be sent to Mainstreet Steamboat Springs, P.O. Box 774611, Steamboat Springs, CO 80477. Make checks payable to Mainstreet Steamboat Springs. For more information, call Tracy Barnett at 846-1800.
Steamboat Springs — Mainstreet Steamboat Springs has raised about $1,200 of the $4,000 needed to save the noon whistle, an iconic siren formerly located in downtown Steamboat Springs. Those who contribute to the cause get to vote on the particulars of the whistle’s restoration.
“I’m still taking donations and asking people to vote on whether they want the old siren or a steamboat whistle and if they want it back at its old post or at Howelsen Hill or another new location,” Mainstreet Steamboat Springs Manager Tracy Barnett said. “People are fairly opinionated about that.”
The noon whistle was an emergency siren that had the historical purpose of summoning volunteer firefighters to blazes. That practical purpose faded with modern communications, but the siren continued to sound a “test” alarm every day at noon until it was removed by the city of Steamboat Springs in October because of concerns that the wooden pole holding it up was unstable.
The whistle stood in the 800 block of Oak Street. Some Old Town residents and businesses rejoiced when the noon whistle was silenced, and others despaired. Cantina restaurant owner Kristi Brown even offered the roof of her building as a potential new location for the noon whistle.
But, citing the results of a nonscientific Steamboat Pilot & Today online reader survey, city and Mainstreet Steamboat Springs officials think most people want the screeching icon back. Of the 309 responses to the survey from the week of Oct. 26, 81 percent were in favor of restoring the noon whistle. In November, the Steamboat Springs City Council gave its blessing to have the whistle restored but asked Mainstreet Steamboat Springs to raise the money required to do so. The city would continue to pay the $700 annual operating cost for the whistle.
The situation has revived some people’s hopes that the harsh siren could be replaced with a more pleasant sound, such as a steamboat whistle, which would hearken to the sound of the city’s namesake springs that were damaged and silenced long ago. Barnett said the “overwhelming” preference of contributors, however, is to have the whistle keep singing the same tune.
“The winning ones so far are fix up the siren we already have and place it over at Howelsen Hill or somewhere other than the Eighth Street parking lot,” said Barnett, who said she has received donations ranging from $10 to $200.
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