It’s not a whistle. It’s an air horn.
Years ago in the 50s and earlier when people worked at the Coal Creek mine the train used to blow the whistle to let everyone know that the train was leaving and it was time to take the miners to work. In those days, the steam engine and steam whistle was pleasant and people remember it with nostalgia.
Today’s trains with powerful diesel engines no longer have a whistle but massive air horns. The decibel level up close is enough to damage a person’s hearing. The blowing of the air horn day and night is particularly disturbing for the many shift workers in Fernie.
The engines alone can be heard for miles coming from Cokato in full power on the way to the mines. The roaring of the train and the bells ringing at the crossing is disturbance enough that the air horn is not needed. When the train arrives at the crossing the ground and houses along First Avenue shake as if there has been a tremor. And then there are the times when the air horn sounds far after passing the crossing, sometimes as many as four blasts.
If we consider safety, perhaps the horn should be sounded for emergencies only. And we could restrict the speed of the trains as they pass through town.