Historic Folk Toys: Music, 'Four Note Train Whistle'
Our wooden Four-Note Train Whistle is approximately 7-1/2 inches long and includes short and long whistle patterns of actual train whistle signals. The precise depths of the four inner holes make it sound like a real train whistle.
Historical Background: The train whistle played a significant role in the history of American trains. The crew of the train needed to be able to communicate with each other from the front of the train (the locomotive) to the end of the train (the caboose). They devised three different ways to communicate without yelling. They basically used bells, flags and sounds, but they also used lanterns, as well as hand and color signals.
Generally, railroad trains are required by various state laws to sound their horns in advance of all crossings. These horns are extremely loud at 96 decibels and have become a nuisance to those who live near such crossings. But the reasons for these loud train whistle sounds are for our own safety. Train whistles (now horns) are sounded as a warning of the approaching train. Florida enacted a ban on locomotive horns, but it was ordered removed after the accident rate doubled during the ban.
Whistle or horn signals are used when a train was ready to leave the station or to back up. Other whistle signals were used as warnings when the train was approaching a crossing or when the train was stopping. There are more signals instructing flagmen when to return to certain areas, inspecting the brake system, acknowledgment and, of course, emergencies.
Train whistles, as toys, were probably first made in the late 1930s. These whistles were shaped like a train but only had one note. These kinds of train whistles were made of hard plastic, Bakelite (1950s), lithographed tin, and vinyl. Two-note train whistles were made, and then the wooden four-note train whistle became popular toward the end of the 20th century.
PACKAGE DIMENSIONS - 3 x 9.25 x 1.25"