Big Jim Returns

2013-08-07

Jacksonville, FL - Following a 15-month reprieve of letting off some steam, JEA’s whistle, Big Jim, is once again signaling to the Jacksonville community the times of 7 a.m., noon., 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. 

Last year, a lightning strike took Big Jim offline close to the time the Orange Street Reservoir project was starting. Because of the lead time for the controller to fix Big Jim and the soon-to-start construction, the decision was made to delay the repair and to wait until equipment was relocated to bring it back online. 

The 120 year-old time keeper is made of copper and stands atop the roof of JEA’s building on Main Street. Big Jim, which has been called the "oldest city employee”, sounds off three tones simultaneously for about 30 seconds. Big Jim can be heard for at least 10 miles. 

When the city opened the plant near Springfield in 1895, the 32-inch copper steam whistle began marking the key times of the work day with few interruptions since. It also warned residents of the Great Fire of 1901 and signaled important historic events, such as the end of two world wars. It marked the arrival of electricity and each New Year's Day since 1896. 

Big Jim retains the nickname bestowed by its builder, James Patterson. Powered by steam generated by boilers for over a hundred years, an air compressor now supplies pressured air that gives the whistle its commanding sound. 

JEA is the seventh-largest community-owned electric utility in the United States and one of the largest water and sewer utilities in the nation providing electric, water and sewer service to residents and businesses in northeast Florida.

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