Little Beaver Historical Society Podcast

Historic Sound: Industrial Beaver County


Sound Is Important to History

Sound is one of the fundamental properties of physics by which humans have developed a physiological sense to experience it: hearing. Sound provides us with useful information about the world, of course, but we have also created a wide range of cultural and creative activities around sound; think of music, poetry, dramatic performances, and public speeches.  


Sound is as much an important historical artifact as any material object, although it is much harder to capture, preserve, and share with others unless mediated by technology, such as recording and playback devices. Soundscapes are important audio recordings for historians because they capture “environmental” sounds or the acoustic trace of “life activity” in context. By environmental sound we generally mean the auditory world around us, not necessarily the sounds of nature. Sound recordists and engineers refer to the activity of capturing environmental sound as “field recording” (as opposed to recording inside a studio). To the sound historian, these field recordings are important artifacts belonging to the historical record, give us a sense of what the acoustic world was like at the time of the recording.

Examples of Beaver County Soundscapes & Sound Events

Audrey Fobes Calling Square Dances, October 1985

This evening of square and couples dancing was recorded on October 26, 1985 by Larry Edelman at the Big Knob Grange Hall, Rochester (Beaver County), Pennsylvania.

Sounds from the McCarl Industrial & Agricultural Museum

Mystery Exhibit One

Mystery Exhibit Two

Mystery Exhibit Three

Mystery Exhibit Four

Industrial Sound Sampler

Factories & Construction

Hum of industrial lighting.  Exhaust fans.  Metal sawing.  Conveyor system.  Crane and vehicles.  Factory gates closing.

Farming & Agriculture

Morning farm pasture.  Barnyard animals.  Cutting hay by hand with a scythe.  Horse-drawn wagons.  Diesel farm tractor start up and shutdown. Steam tractor horn. 

Water Power

River dam.  Water powered feed mill.  Water wheel turning and gearbox. 


Hand sawing wood.  Circular saw.  Wood plane. Chisle work.  Hammering. Wood lathe.  Drilling.  Staple gun.  Wood dust vacuum.


Hand mixing concrete.  Brick laying and stringing mortar with hand trowel.  Cement truck unloading concrete into forms.  Leveling wet cement slab using screeding trowel.


Hand hammering on anvil. Coal and propane blast furnace. Punch machine.  Metal grinder. Metal rim forming. Scrap metal falling.

Sounds from History's Kitchen

What was frontier life like in 1800s Beaver County?

The “Early American” YouTube channel provides us with recreated frontier experiences around America’s early frontier hearth and home.  The 19th century recipes and methods of preparation are generally authentic–including the rather fascinating sounds and noises of frontier culinary life: a crackling fire, knives carving, slicing a cutting board, grinding stones, spice shaking, egg whisking, lard sizzling, and so many other interesting sounds.

Here EA provides us with high quality  sounds and sights of “deep fried mashed potato balls from 1822 and a slow roasted duck from 1823. These are real recipes (or receipts as they used to be called) from those who came before us.” Many EA’s videos are created using the ASMR technique (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response), which captures sounds in high definition, stereoscopic detail.  In many cases, ASMR recordings use binaural microphones that simulate the way in which humans hear sound through ears on the left and right side of the head–often producing the most fidelic human hearing experiences possible.