The town whistle at the Bremen Light & Water Plant by Shadyside Park has been refurbished by Paul Shelton of Michigan City and is being blown again. Listen for it.

Here’s a link to the WNDU coverage.

It is an unusually large whistle made by Lunkenheimer Company in Cincinnati, Ohio. It is their “Improved Combination or Fire Alarm Whistle” from 1906. It was moved to the current building when it was constructed in 1937.

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Lunkenheimer's Improved Combo or Fire Alarm Whistle
Lunkenheimer’s Improved Combo or Fire Alarm Whistle

Originally, the whistle was blown during the summer to signal when the street sprinkler would water the streets to keep the dust down. But its primary purpose was always to alert the fire brigade.

An 1899 incident illustrates how the original whistle was situated on the roof of the original building, which sat right next to the bridge on Center street.

false alarm 1899
Bremen Enquirer – Feb 10, 1899

It should be noted that the “quick run” made by the fire brigade was literally a run. The men physically pulled the hose cart in those days; they didn’t even use horses.

Owing to incidents like this, the original whistle was somewhat unreliable, and it was replaced in 1906 with the current one.

new whistle 1906
Bremen Enquirer – Nov 1, 1906

A 1911 article relates a fire alarm during church and gives details about the whistle code. Here is the excerpted details…

whistle details 1911
Bremen Enquirer – April 20, 1911

Walt Buescher (1914-2009), in his memoir of Bremen, relates a different code:

As a kid, I was a fire nut. When the oeoeeoeeeoee fire whistle blew, with the first blast I was out of bed and had my pants on. l waited for the toots that told where the fire was located…one toot for the southwest end of town, two for the big northwest, three for the northeast, four for the southeast where we lived. Five toots if the fire was across the B&O tracks. Often I arrived on the run as soon as some of the volunteer firemen got there.

The whistle has a slide-whistle sort of design and was even used to play music once: Armistice Day, 1918 — the end of World War 1, as remembered during the next war….

Armistice Day celebration
Bremen Enquirer – Nov 11, 1943

Videos of the songs mentioned: