On This Day in IUPUI History: May 29, 1976

May 29, 1976. 

On this day, the IUPUI calliope made its first appearance by rolling down the streets of Indianapolis in the 500 Festival Parade.

The steam-powered musical instrument was salvaged from a retired Ohio River showboat. Restoration of the then-53-year-old instrument became a project of the Indiana University Alumni Association under the supervision of Nick Kestner and George Dickison and IUPUI faculty and students. Professor Robert Weaver from the Herron School of Art contributed his artistic skills and his knowledge of circus arts to the design of the calliope's new hand-painted circus-wagon case. David Richardson of the School of Engineering and Technology and his students gave their technical skills to the project by installing a new boiler to shoot air through the calliope's 32 whistles. The whole thing was drawn by six horses. 

Organizers held open tryouts to play the calliope for the parade. The calliope was a university contribution to the United States bicentennial celebration of 1976.

IUPUI calliope in 500 Festival Parade, 1976 676-0021-007

To learn more about the IUPUI calliope and all things IUPUI, please stop by the IUPUI Special Collections and Archives. Ask questions by emailing staff at speccoll@iupui.edu.

Updated May 29, 2019 by Editor Name Missing