Making Trains Sound Like Trains: The Extraordinary Tale of the Locomotive Whistle in North America

Author(s): Deane H. Ellsworth


Follow the evolution of the sound of a train's horn - here, there, and everywhere. World War II was over and railroads were retiring war-weary steam locomotives in favor of shiny new diesel locomotives. Deane Ellsworth, a young train-crazy lad at the time, wondered if anyone anywhere cared about the steam locomotives' musical train whistles being replaced by the monotone horns. Indeed, a public accustomed to the melodious sounds of steam whistles registered concerns about these new horns as a growing source of noise, confusion, and accidents. As it happened, Ellsworth would go on to develop the K5LA and K3LA airhorns that are used on thousands of locomotives across North America today. In Making Trains Sound Like Trains, he relates the compelling tale - part history, part personal story - of the evolution of the train horn from the postwar period to today. Along the way, readers meet the colorful characters who found themselves involved in the story: loggers, poets, railroaders, industrialists, musicians, and more. Told for the first time, this detailed account combines an entertaining narrative, current and historical photography, and more than eighty field recordings.
Railfans, historians, collectors, musicians, and those who smile at the sound of a distant train will not want to miss this book!


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Product Information

DEANE H. ELLSWORTH worked for twenty-one years as a railroad manager, during which time he also served as technical editor for Extra 2200 South, a popular railfan publication. As Amtrak's manager of locomotive development, he supervised the construction and testing of that railroad's most well-known locomotive models. Working with Robert Swanson, the inventor of the train chime horn, Ellsworth developed the air horns that are used today on thousands of North American passenger and freight locomotives. Ellsworth has been making photographs and field recordings of trains since 1968 and for twenty-eight years served as an expert witness on railroad safety in federal and state courts.

General Fields

  • : 9780760347676
  • : Motorbooks International
  • : Motorbooks International
  • : June 2015
  • : 279mm X 216mm
  • : United States
  • : April 2015
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Deane H. Ellsworth
  • : Hardback
  • : 625.25
  • : 240