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Kayaker finds Ellicott City's iconic clock in the Patapsco River

Kayaker finds Ellicott City's iconic clock in the Patapsco River
Part of the Ellicott City clock was found downstream on the Patapsco by kayaker Bobby Barker. (Bobby Barker / Baltimore Sun)

Bobby Barker was kayaking in the Patapsco River when he stumbled upon something he'd never seen before: a giant clock.

Barker, who grew up in the area and regularly kayaks the Patapsco, was taking in the damage from the deadly flood that ravaged historic Ellicott City and looking for people who might have needed assistance Sunday night. What he found was the community's iconic clock.

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The 15-foot-tall clock had been swept away from its base near the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum at the foot of Main Street during the flood Saturday night.

Barker, 30, found it a few hundred yards away.

"I came around the corner behind the flour mill and noticed some cars that were in the river," he said. "I pulled over and was just looking at the cars and came behind the sandbank there and found the actual clock."

He said a friend has the face of the clock. He planned to go back Tuesday night to retrieve the clock's pole and base.

"It's a symbol for the city, and it just went away," he said.

After he pulled the clock's face out, he said, onlookers cheered.

"The city lives on!" one shouted.

The clock was erected by the Kiwanis Club in 2000. Community members have spoken of replacing it. Barker said he plans to return it to the city.

Barker, a landscaper who moved from Ellicott City to Sykesville last year, said he typically kayaks in the Patapsco River two or three times a week. He said he is essentially living in Ellicott City again to help with the cleanup.

On his kayak run, he counted 17 submerged cars along with tons of debris — including toys — from Main Street stores.

"It's just overwhelming, really," he said.

Barker started a Facebook group to recruit kayakers to work as long as it takes to help clean up the river. While the group is small, he said, he hopes it can play a part in the larger rebuilding effort.

Barker said the flooding transformed the river, moving giant boulders and adding artificial obstacles such as a new Ford Mustang jutting out of the water.

"As much as the city's destroyed, the river's 10 times worse," he said.

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