Noon whistle could play a friendlier tune |

Noon whistle could play a friendlier tune

Yellowstone National Park has Old Faithful, and Steamboat Springs has a noon whistle that sounds like an air-raid siren.

Steamboat always has been a community that lends itself to nautical puns. After all, the newspaper, at one time, ran regular features called “The Poop Deck” and “From the Boiler Room.” However, the town’s noon whistle has never played along.

Now, members of the Main Street Steamboat Springs project are investigating the possibility of converting the town’s noon whistle to play a theme that fits its name — a sound much closer to the warning blast made by the old Missouri River steamboats that ferried pioneers and fur trappers along part of the arduous journey to the Rocky Mountains.

The current whistle occupies a hive of yellow loudspeakers perched on a pole in the Eighth Street parking lot, and sounds more like a civil defense warning.

“Historically, it was the volunteer firemen’s whistle,” Tracy Barnett said. “We think it should be a Steamboat whistle, and we’re researching how we could get that to happen.”

Barnett heads the Main Street promotions committee. Firefighters have long since learned to rely on pagers rather than air-raid sirens, and Barnett said the old noon whistle doesn’t have any meaningful context. Converting it to sound like the steam whistle on a river boat would be just one fun detail in the effort to enhance the public’s enjoyment of Steamboat’s downtown shopping district, Barnett said. She anticipates it would take a private/public partnership to fund purchase of a new digital device that would emit the sound of a steamboat at noon every day.

“We’re trying to go slow and have baby-step successes,” Barnett said.

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