The Alphabet Route


Western Maryland Railway

Steam Whistles

The Challangers (4-6-6-4's) and Potomacs (4-8-4's) had steamboat whistles with 5* chimes.  These whistles were operated with an air valve in the cab instead of a rope which made them virtually impossible to blow in any manner except wide open.  The I-2 (2-10-0) class engines had similar whistles but with manually operated valves.  Similar, if not identical, whistles were used on most or all of the 800s (2-8-0's) and the Pacifics (4-6-2's).  The 900s (articulated 2-8-8-2, 2-6-6-2, and others) had chime whistles with rather long bells but not quite the same as those on the H-9s and I-2s.  The whistles on the H-7 (2-8-0) class engines were long bell single note hoot whistles.  They were not shrill if properly adjusted.  The Elkins shop whistle was reprotedly off of a 700 and was quite pleasent sounding.  Some of the older classes of 2-8-0s like the 600s also had whistles similar to these.  The whistles on the H-8s (2-8-0) and I-1s (2-10-0) are very hard to see in photos but appear to be short chime whistles.  The shays had similar whistles.  These should have been sharp chime whistles but not necessarly shrill.  Even photos of little 348 show what appears to be an old chime whistle that likely sounded very nice.

These whistles were not necessarly what the engines were delivered with.  Some older photos of the I-2s show short chime whistles instead of the longer steamboats of later years.  There is evidence that the K-2s had 3 different whistles in their lifespan.  There seemed to be little variation between the classes unless it was on the older engines.  There were few if any shrill whistles on the WM. 

The Western Maryland Railway Historical Society put out a 33rpm long play album of WM steam titled "Fast Freight Rolling".   Several classes of steam whistles are heard on this record.

*the source of this document was uncertain that these were 5 chime whistles, but suggested that it was most likely.  They were definitely 3+ chimes.