A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Have the time? Don’t look up just yet

Written September 29th, 2020 by Hasso Hering

This photo was taken at 12:19 p.m. on Tuesday, which you wouldn’t know from the clocks on the tower at Albany Station.

Some people have noticed that if you want to know the time of day, the clocks on the tower at Albany Station are no big help.

One of those who noticed is Lindell Johnson, who sent me an email.

“Could you find out why the clock tower at the train station is never showing the correct time on ALL the clock faces?” she asked. “A beautiful entrance into Albany but never ‘updated’ with time changes, never accurate on all sides, etc. What’s the point of the clock tower if not useful and accurate?”

I hadn’t noticed  myself, so on Tuesday I went to take a look.

From this angle it was either 10 to 11 or 5 to one. Neither was right.

And on the clock facing east, it was 12 past two. I didn’t check the clock facing north, but you get the picture.

The good news is that this is going to get fixed, according to what I heard from the city of Albany, which owns the station and the clock tower.

At City Hall, Holly Roten promptly fielded my question. “Here’s the information I received from our facilities maintenance supervisor on September 22,” she emailed. “Three of the four clock motors have seized. The other one is slipping so bad that it won’t keep the correct time. Foress Sign Co. will order and install the new motors.”

Getting the motors may take two to three weeks, she added.

Tom Valentino of the city added that the new motors are about $250 each. Three of them apparently have been in place since the 60-foot tower was completed in early 2007. The fourth was replaced about five years ago.

The tower was the crowning touch when Albany’s historic Southern Pacific depot and the grounds were restored in a major project, the first part of which was completed in 2006 at a cost of about $10 million. That was followed by the restoration of the former Railway Express Agency building next door, which now houses the Albany Transit System offices.

The clocks were a gift from the Greater Albany Rotary Club, which contributed $40,000 to the tower project, which cost about $140,000, including the clocks.

The way things stand, you might say that the tower clocks are right a combined total of four times a day. And now it looks as though soon, they will all be right around the clock. (hh)

6 responses to “Have the time? Don’t look up just yet”

  1. Patricia Eich says:

    Hasso, you always have answers to questions. I was wondering the same thing when I drove by the other day. I’m looking forward to the clocks being fixed.

  2. Brad says:

    It’s so nice to hear that the price for the city to fix something is a reasonable amount of money. I expected you to write that they’d hired an analysist for $40,000 to research the clock and determine that the price to fix it was more than the clock was worth.

  3. Mort Harkins says:

    Seems that is the norm for clock towers, the one downtown by the bridge is not rite most of the time I noticed.

  4. James Engel says:

    If the City council can’t get a clock to work properly what can we expect of them to govern us??!! So much for $$10M spent on the boondoggle. And CARA want’s to spend $15M plus to make our riverfront a mini rival of that spot on the Mediterranean?

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