The secret to the high quality of the Olds'
Calliope is the finely constructed valve, shown here in cross-section
A calliope is a musical instrument that produces sound by sending steam
through whistles, originally locomotive whistles. Joshua C. Stoddard of
Worcester, Massachusetts invented the calliope, patented October 9, 1855. The
calliope is also known as a "steam organ" or "steam piano." It was often played
on riverboats and in circuses, where it was sometimes mounted on a carved,
painted and gilded horse-drawn wagon in a circus parade.
Stoddard's original calliope was attached to a metal roller set with pins in the
manner familiar to Stoddard from the contemporary clockwork music box. The pins
on the roller opened valves and blew the whistles. Later, Stoddard replaced the
cylinder with a keyboard, so that the calliope could be played like an organ.