The Lillian E. Jones Museum in Jackson is the new home of the old Globe Iron steam whistle that most recently for 34 years faithfully announced the time for Jackson County residents from the roof of the former Merillat Industries plant.
The whistle is now housed in the Jones Museum’s Industry Room beneath portraits of Globe Presidents and near the display case of artifacts from Merillat’s years of operation in Jackson.
Long-time Merillat plant manager John Lewis received permission from corporate management to donate the whistle to the Jones Museum.
Geiger Brothers employees removed the whistle from the roof of the facility in March and then fabricated and donated a permanent display stand. They delivered and placed the stand and whistle on Friday morning, April 25.
Museum director Megan Malone and board member Naomi Worthington were on hand to welcome Lewis and Geiger Brothers representatives, including President Erik Massie, for an unveiling of the whistle in its new home.
“We are thrilled with what Geiger Brothers has done for us,” Malone commented.
The steam whistle’s complete provenance has been lost to the ages, but the whistle’s tenure at the Merillat facility was documented in a December 19, 1979, note in Ed Clark’s “Sun Spots” column in the Jackson Journal-Herald.
In 1979, Clark wrote: “The Globe Whistle will blow again. John Brunton, manager of Merillat Industries, said his firm has acquired ‘an’ old Globe Whistle and the whistle is in the process of being installed at the Merillat plant. If all goes well, the whistle will be blown for the first time at 12:01 a.m. January 1, 1980, to celebrate the new decade. John says Merillat plans to blow the whistle regularly thereafter to renew a pleasant old Jackson tradition.”
After approximately 38 years of operation, corporate officials announced plans to close the Merillat plant last September and all operations have now ended. The steam whistle blew daily at 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. to announce shift changes while mounted on the Merillat building until its last sounding March 6, 2014.