Friends of the 457 - Mason City, Iowa

History of the 457
Get 457 E-News
Support the 457

457's Whistle All Steamed Up
Posted Date:
The 457's whistle will once again sound out. Visit the Boone & Scenic Valley RR during October for the thrilling, authentic sounds of the Nathan Six Chime brass whistle.

Fifty-nineyears ago the Minneapolis & St. Louis 457, better known as the Rotary Cannonball, a 1912 railroad steam engine now located in East Park, blew its whistle for the last time in March of 1956. But soon the Nathan six chime solid brass whistle cast in 1912 and now mounted on the Boone & Scenic Valley railroad steam engine 8419 will sound again, reverberating throughout the Des Moines River Valley east of Boone, Iowa.

Through a joint effort between the Friends of the 457 and the Boone Valley & Scenic Railroad the Cannonball’s whistle was removed recently and taken to Boone, Iowa 457's Whistle at B&SV RR and mounted on the 8419 steam engine which pulls the Saturday excursion train. The whistle will be on loan throughout the month of October.

Friends of the 457 plan on recording the whistle and placing it in the Cannonball’s recorded system of sounds.

Several years ago the Friends took the whistle off and mounted it on a steam tractor at Heritage Park in Forest City, recording the sound, which has been used up to this time. However the quality not being the same as if operated off an actual railroad steam engine, the Friends appreciated the Boone Valley railroad’s offer to mount the whistle on their operating engine. This is a great opportunity to record and preserve a piece of Iowa’s railroad history. Even though the sound will be embedded in the Cannonball’s recorded sounds, it would be will worth it for anyone interested in hearing the 457’s whistle, to plan on taking an October trip to Boone for a Saturday train excursion ride.

Over the last fifty some years, almost every appliance on the 457 Rotary Cannonball including the bell and all brass fixtures were stolen or destroyed. The whistle is the only original brass appliance left intact since 1912. Thoughts are that the reason it wasn’t stolen was that it was painted the same color as the engine, black, and the difficulty in removing it.

People in photo are, Left to right; Fenner Stevenson, General Manager, Boone & Scenic Valley RR Dan Hetzel, Steam Crew Member  Dennis Wilson, Chairman, Friends of the 457 volunteers Mike Wendel, Museum Administrator