The Great Northern Railroad donated a locomotive bell to the Hubbard County Historical Society in 1958.
Since the very beginnings of the industry, bells have been closely associated with railroading.
The horse-drawn railways of the 1800s hung small bells on horses’ bridles to indicate their presence, and bells were used – and continue to be used – on virtually all steam and diesel locomotives.
Bells became standard equipment on engines, but their main function was to warn both humans and animals to watch out for the oncoming train. In the very early days, a man on horseback rode ahead of the locomotive waving a flag and shouting “The train is coming.”
When a bell was added, it was the fireman's job to ring it, and many a fireman would develop such a distinctive touch on the bell that his friends and family would become familiar with its tone and cadence.
The very large and heavy brass bell is still fully functional. Stop in to the museum, located at 301 Court Ave. in Park Rapids, and check it out.