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Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017

The Noon Whistle

Posted Thursday, February 7, 2008, at 10:28 AM

Though we're a little over 3 miles out of Cambridge, we usually hear the noon whistle. The first time I heard a noon whistle was visiting my grandparents in Ewing when I was a kid, but I really never gave it much thought 'till I started wondering why there is a noon whistle at all.

Perhaps one of you out there know why this weekday occurrence in rural Nebraska got started, but I wouldn't doubt railroads had something to do with it. Seems like I remember that before time zones became defined, the time of day corresponded to the actual location of the sun making for interesting train schedules. Perhaps the whistle was blown to help the town stay on correct "railroad time"?

It didn't take us long to find out that a lot of business locations close up from 12 to 1, and the noon whistle is as good a way as I know of sounding a town-wide notice to shut down for lunch. City folk would go nuts with an area wide business lunch hour. Many city slickers run out of their office to run errands or go shopping or whatever. Having to schedule time outside their normal work hours to accomplish these tasks might even create traffic jams because people couldn't accomplish their errands during their lunch hour.

I like the noon whistle. Until I learn of a different reason for it's purpose, I'll continue to imagine a Pacific 4-6-0 steam engine and mixed freight consist chuffing into Cambridge station at the stroke of noon, and the station master blowing the town's whistle to keep time.

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