The Vagabond – Steamboat whistle used on Coosa River

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By Danny Crownover

In 1934, the Southern Manufacturing Company used a steam whistle on its main plant that had somewhat of a history with local application.

The old whistle was used on many steamboats operating on the Coosa River for 50 years and was the property of the big freighters that used the river, including The Alabama, The Wagnon, The Cherokee.

Will and Al Gwin, who ran the Southern Manufacturing Company, recalled that for many years that old whistle would sound three long blasts on the boat approaching Gadsden, alerting shippers to be ready to receive or deliver freight.

The Gwins owned a one-horse wagon that departed for the river when the first blast was heard, always loaded with material for upriver points.

In 1934, the Gwins expressed the hope that the whistle, which was owned by the Lasseter family, might be placed on a boat when and if the Coosa River was opened to navigation to the Gulf of Mexico.

Contact The Vagabond at dkcrown@bellsouth.net.

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