Satisfy Your Hankering for Calliope Music

Article excerpt

Byline: Madelyn Merwin

Q: I have a fondness for calliopes. I traveled to Louisville to hear the calliope duel between the Delta Queen and the Belle of Louisville. I made a trip on the Delta Queen to hear and examine the calliope.

Now I hear there is a circus calliope facility somewhere here in the Midwest. Do you know where it is or have any information about it?

Thanks for anything you can tell me.

A: You heard correctly. The world's largest collection of antique circus calliopes now has a permanent home at the newly opened American Calliope Center in Spring Green, Wis.

At the present time 10 calliopes are on display, the rarest being the world's oldest intact 43-whistle air calliope that was found in Williamsburg, Va. It was made in 1914 for the giant Sells-Floto Circus by Joseph Ori, the inventor of the air calliope. It's been fully restored and returned to its original paint color.

All of the calliopes may be hand played on a piano-type keyboard and most of them also play from calliope "A" rolls, similar to player-piano rolls. A calliope plays during all the hours the center is open.

There is no admission charge to the center on U.S. Hwy. 14 in Spring Green. It is open daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. April through December, except for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

FYI: Remember Billy Crystal in "City Slickers," when three friends decided they wanted to play cowboy for a while? Well, you too can doctor animals, check fences and water holes, separate strays and move cattle from high mountain pastures. …