Weighing in on the whistle June 18 2009
Shorpy comment of the day: "The whistle is for safety. If a miner got hurt, he would use his whistle to inform his neighboring miners (remember that it was very dark in a mine). Or if a cave-in happened, the whistling could locate a trapped miner. Because of the bad occurences associated with a whistle in a mine, it was considered bad luck to actually whistle (carry a tune while you're bored or working, per se) in a mine. Alternatively, miners believed whistling in a shaft would drive away ore or potentially cause shaft collapse. I suppose it's similar to theater folk not saying Macbeth in the theater."