Time on their hands …

There are only 12 steam clocks in the world, and the Indiana State Museumis lucky enough to have one of them. No one else had even imagined a clock powered by steam before Raymond Saunders of Vancouver, British Columbia, had the idea to build one in 1977 for the Gastown area of Vancouver. That one was built to cover a central heat steam vent in the sidewalk. Saunders since went on to build six more, including ours.

The 17-foot tall Indiana State Museum steam clock is located on the sidewalk on the canal side of the museum. It has four 24-inch diameter dials, back-lit by neon. The clock’s eight brass whistles play a few bars of “Back Home Again in Indiana” every 15 minutes, with a fuller rendition played at the top of every hour.

However, the clock has been out of order this summer and needed to be repaired. Turns out it was somewhat of a plumbing issue, with leaky pipes to the eight solenoids that feed into the eight whistles playing “Back Home Again in Indiana.”

So for now, the HVAC people are fixing the leaks. But eventually Mr. Saunders may need to travel from Vancouver to tune the whistles … stay tuned! Yes, pun intended.

 

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One Response

  1. While I understand the historical significance of this item, as someone who works downtown and hears it “whistle” every 15 minutes the novelty of the clock has quickly worn off and has become replaced with annoyance.

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