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Howard County Times
Howard County

After Ellicott City loses clock to flood, some want to rebuild

There was something so stately about the clock tower that stood outside the B&O station in Ellicott City that it seemed to be much older than it was.

It was, in fact, only 16 years old, according to the Howard County Historical Society. It was erected in 2000 by the Ellicott City Kiwanis Club to mark the club's 60th anniversary, according to the group's secretary.

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"That's really become kind of an iconic place and image for Ellicott City," said Shawn Gladden, executive director of the historical society.

The clock was swept away in Saturday's flood. On Sunday night, it was found in the Patapsco River by a kayaker. Already there are calls to rebuild it.

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Gladden said the No. 1 question he has fielded since it was lost in the swirling waters is whether the clock will be restored to its place outside the nation's oldest surviving train station.

"It seems to be that there's enough folks out there interested in the clock that I can't believe it wouldn't be a priority to at least put up a replica," Gladden said.

One of the most compelling video images from the flood that struck the Howard County seat Saturday was the black clock with Roman numerals toppling and floating away under the CSX Railroad bridge.

Rich Funke, secretary of the Ellicott City Kiwanis, said the clock was certain to come up at the group's meeting Monday night. He said he expected the group's priority to be collecting clothes and donations for people displaced by the flood.

"We'll try to do the good works first and then double back and rebuild the clock," he said. "It takes a while to raise that kind of money."

Harry Slade III, who participated in the Kiwanis drive to build the clock, said it cost between $15,000 and $20,000.

Funke recalled that "it was a stretch" for the organization.

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The clock stood 15 feet, 4 inches tall, he said, and was made of cast aluminum. It was anchored to the ground with four 48-inch tie rods — an indication of the power of the water that uprooted it.

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Funke said any plans to rebuild it would require the agreement of Howard County. He said the Kiwanis turned it over to the county after it was completed.

Spokesman Andy Barth said County Executive Allan Kittleman has been too busy with the immediate disaster response to consider what to do about the clock.

Despite its relative youth, the clock had become a striking symbol of the town. It appeared in an ad for Howard County in the magazine of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Shops in town sold refrigerator magnets with its image.

Tom Coale, vice chairman of the Ellicott City Partnership, said it's important to the community to rebuild the clock.

"If it's not done through government, it will be done through private actors," he said. "It will be important to make sure Ellicott City does not return as just a place but is also returned as Ellicott City with all of our symbols, all of our character and all of our history."

mdresser@baltsun.com


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