Welcome, 1966--That event called a Happy New Year is here. No doubt
you heard it arrive. Once upon a time on December 31, about midnight,
Ironton shot off a lot of steam. Whistles in midtown sounded at the
Crystal Ice Plant, the Elbert Brewery and Dupuy Tannery, all located
near Seventh and Railroad streets. The bell loudest in the business
district was at Third Ware Hose House, now on location of the First
Standing on the courthouse lawn 13 bells could be heard from 8
churches, and at old Kingsbury School, when the high school boys
somehow always managed to get inside to pull the bell rope. The
churches were the Presbyterian, Episcopal, Baptist, Congregational,
Lutheran, the chimes at St. Lawrence, all of which made a beautiful
music. In the distance was the Methodist bell at old Wesley Chapel at
Fifth and Etna, which was destroyed by fire in 1913, and the two bells
in the tower at the old St. Joseph’s at Third and Adams.
When there was a lull among the rope pullers, the whistles from the
steam locomotives, near the C&O roundhouse at Russell, were far-away
noises like foxes crying in the hills. The two loudest noises heard in
the central part of town were the water works fire alarm whistle and
Captain Tom Hopkins’s whistle on the Ironton-Russell ferryboat.
Uptown the big noise was the cement plant whistle, the Ward Lumber
Company, the Ironton Engine Company, Semet Solvay and the Ironton Fire
Every school building and church up town had a bell, but they
couldn’t be heard in the upstairs front porch at the Elks Home where I
usually listened for the New Year. Along the river bank old Belfont
furnace, Kelly nail Mill, the Ironton Lumber co., Fearon and Nigh saw
mill whistles and the D.T. & I. Roundhouse engines joined in the
noise. Of course the boys at Foster Stove foundry stayed up late to do
a lot of tooting.
In the north end it was Belfont Nail Mill, Goldcamp Flour Mill, the
old hub works at Third and Buckhorn and Lambert machine shops, now the
Meehan Steel Products Co.. Midnight, December 31 was a big noise night
in a great industrial city, and today I wonder what become of all the
once familiar whistles and bells? The ringing of a bell or the blowing
of whistles kept once everything in town on time. Sixty years ago the
city had six hose house bells. Gone are the courthouse bells, the
market house bell and sleigh bells, too.
Old-timers will remember when the hose house bell at Third and Park
rang at 6 p.m. for the stores to close when workdays were 12 hours
long. Baseball fans of long ago remember the Sixth Ward hose-house
bell which hung in the open belfry adjoining Pastime Park, now the
Schaefer Market, which was every players aim to hit with a home and
ring the bell.
Before a reader calls me on the phone I’d better mention the noon
whistle at Ketter Buggy Works, the old door factory. Wiehle Soap
Works, Sara and the Big Etna furnaces and the Model steam laundry.
One day is gone, so Soliloquy blows the whistle and rings the bell
for 364 happy days of 1966 for each and every reader.