It's had the best view on Arsenal Island since the 1800's. So, what is it? That's the subject of this week's edition of "Rock Island Arsenal: Inside the Gates".
You could say it's survived the test of time. Construction on the Clock Tower Building began during the Civil War, and it's been standing on the Western end of Arsenal Island ever since. We've all seen the outside, in this story, we go inside.
Natural sound of bell ringing.
You could say this place is solid as a rock. Using local limestone from LeClaire. It was the island's first permanent government building.
"The construction was interrupted in 1864 when there was no water in the Mississippi River so they couldn't bring down the limestone blocks, float them down the river to the construction site," says Ron Deiss, Archaeologist for US Army Corps of Engineers, Rock Island District.
Finally finished in 1867, it was a storage building for supplies like ammunition, canteens, and uniforms to be sent out to the frontier helping the military with Westward expansion. "The tower functioned as an elevator and they would move those crates up and down between the floors and store them, " Deiss tells us.
However, when the the Stone Shops were built, Storehouse A was no longer needed. So in 1931, The Corps of Engineers moved in designing and overseeing construction of the first dam built across the Upper Mississippi.
But it's not the function of the building that catches the eye, it's the faces at the top of the tower. "This is the encasement for the pendulum for the clock that is located on the 6th floor so it penetrates down 2 floors," he says.
And up we go, walking up the steps, until we reach the 6th floor, the top of the tower. Deiss tells us, "This floor was built to house the clock which provides the mechanisms to turn the dials on the 4 faces on each side of the tower."
As amazing as it is to see the tower from the inside out, there's more.
As we walk up the steps a bit further, I ask Deiss, "How many people get to go and see the bell up here? He answers, "Not very many, rarely do we even go up here and more rarely do we bring visitors up here."
The view from the roof takes your breath away, as does the chime of this massive bell.
Natural sound of bell ringing.
For 145 years the clock tower's been keeping time, and supported by those thick walls of limestone the bell may well toll here for 145 more.
Natural sound of bell ringing.—–
The clock faces were replaced about 10 years ago, but we're told they were made using the exact same measurements and same type of wood as the originals.
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