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Park Workers Don’t Have The Time

Time stands still in Riverfront Park.

The clock that stares across the river at downtown Spokane - alerting office workers to lunch time and shoppers to the start of a big sale - clanked to a stop late last week.

The 4-foot-long minute hands quit making the rounds after the pendulum stopped swinging.

For now, while park workers get ready for Saturday’s opening of the Pavilion amusement rides, the 93-year-old clock will keep telling Spokane it’s 11:07.

“The highest priority right now is getting stuff ready for the weekend,” said Hal McGlathery, the park’s manager.

McGlathery doesn’t think fixing the complicated, weight-operated clockworks should be much of a problem. Most likely, he said, corrosion is freezing movement of the cable-pulley system.

The problem lies in getting to the top of the 155-foot clock tower - climbing three wooden staircases and two metal ladders - and taking things apart to figure out what’s stopping time.

“Until we get up and really, truly access it, we won’t know for sure,” McGlathery said.

For nearly 70 years, the clock alerted travelers at the Great Northern Railroad depot of their trains’ pending departure. Built in 1902, it was designated a state historical landmark just prior to Expo ‘74.

“Riverfront Park is important to Spokane, and the clock is a centerpiece,” McGlathery said. “That and the Pavilion are symbols of the park.”

People almost immediately took note when the clock stopped, with calls coming in, McGlathery said.

“It’s obviously pretty popular.”

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