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Welcome to
Mechanical Music Digest's
Calliope Home Page

Illustration from Encyclopedia of Automatic Musical Instruments, by Q. David Bowers, page 840

An account of Joshua C. Stoddard's invention is reprinted in "Player Piano Treasury", by Harvey Roehl:

" ... The first instrument consisted of 15 whistles, of graduated sizes, attached in a row to the top of a small steam boiler. A long cylinder with pins of different shapes driven into it ran the length of the boiler. The pins were so arranged that when the cylinder revolved, they pressed the valves and blew the whistles in proper sequence. The different shapes enabled the operator to play notes of varying length. Later, Stoddard replaced the cylinder with a keyboard. Wires running from the keys to the valves enabled the operator to play the instrument like a piano."

Here's a collections of images and articles on Steam Calliopes and Air Calliopes.  For the time being, there's no particular order. Check back from time to time for additional entries.

Calliope articles

  • Steamboat Delta Queen Calliope   (whistles by Thomas J. Nichol)
  • Ernest J. Wilde Steam Calliope in Sacramento CA, by Marc Kaufman
  • Wooden Whistle Calliope by Paul E. Freiling
  • Calliope and "Lady Godiva" Are Hits At Parades
  • MMD Editor Robbie Rhodes playing a Tangley Calliaphone clone
  • Harmony in Steam, an article on Joshua C. Stoddard
  • Arthur Davis Steam Calliope seen near Seattle, Washington in 1983
  • "New Age" Air Calliope by Melville McBride, Aptos, Calif.
  • Cozatt Calliope, manufactured by Perry Cozatt




  • Indiana University Perdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) Calliope   (whistles by Thomas J. Nichol)
  • Two Jesters Calliope
  • Belle of Louisville, Riverboat - National Historic Landmark Study
  • Steamboat Delta Queen - National Historic Landmark Study
  • Lake George Steamboat Company - Minne-Ha-Ha
  • C. Shannon and the Antique Reed Organs and Calliopes  (has rare air calliope pictured)
  • Karl Petersen's steam powered Citroën station wagon (This one isn't exactly a calliope, but it's sure nifty!)



    System Design

  • MMD Calliope System Design Page -- A collection of technical discussions


    Click to hear a calliope playing "Stars and Stripes Forever"
    MIDI file startrio.mid (8 kb)
    or MP3 file StarsTrio.mp3 (582 kb)

    boat1.jpg (60kb)

    MMD Alligator Airboat Calliope
    Copyright (C) 1998 by J. L. Stubbs, used by permission.

    5 July 1999, 24 April 2001, 14 August 2001, 10 December 2003

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