York’s musical factory whistle drowns out N.Y. Wire’s WWII feats

So much attention is given to New York Wire Cloth’s Christmas-Carol-playing steam whistle that the company’s immense contributions during World War II are all-but-forgotten.
Indeed, there’s a current drama going on about whether the York plant’s whistle, billed as producing the world’s loudest music without amplification from a non-musical instrument, will blast this holiday season… .


The boiler problem that canceled last year’s traditional midnight concert on Christmas Day has not been fixed, but musicians have found a workaround. The concert is set to return this year.
The powerful factory whistle with a movable valve came in handy during World War II to signal the community about air raid drills and the like.
But a company exhibit at the York County Heritage Trust’s Agricultural and Industrial Museum proudly points to other WWII feats achieved by wire cloth, better known as screening, particularly in the Pacific Theater:
–Screens protected food from insect-born dysentery germs.
— Field operating rooms could be screened-in, keeping insects bearing infectious germs at bay.
— Screens kept blood plasma and other Red Cross supplies from dirt and germs.
— Nurses quarters: “What cool breezes there are in that hot country can get in — mosquitoes can’t.”
Generally, the most insidious enemy fronting New York Wire’s screens was the malaria-bearing “Ann” misquitoes.
New York Wire circulated a letter from Surgeon General Norman T. Kirk praising the company.
“We on the home front must not fail our men in the Armed Forces. American lives are at stake.”
But still, there’s that whistle. CDs of past concerts are available this holiday season. And whistle master Don Ryan will be meet folks at Christmas Magic at Rocky Ridge Park, weekends through Christmas Eve.
Background post: The world’s loudest music without amplification from a non-musical instrument.

About Jim McClure

Editor of the York Daily Record/Sunday News, ydr.com and its many digital products. East Region Editor, Digital First Media. Journalism/history blogger: yorktownsquare.com. Author or co-author of seven York County, Pa., history books.
This entry was posted in Archives, all posts, Events, Explanations/controversy, Local journalism & Web, Local landmarks, Made in York, N.Y. Wire/Whistle, People, War, World War II. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to York’s musical factory whistle drowns out N.Y. Wire’s WWII feats

  1. Tricia says:

    This was my first time hearing the whistles. I am reading that you can purchase CDs..but it doesnt say where. Can someone let me know?????

  2. Jim McClure says:

    CDs of the steam whistle’s Christmas music are available at the York County Heritage Trust, http://www.yorkheritage.org or Borders Books, 3000 Whiteford Road, York, 717-755-0800.

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