by R.J. Cohn – originally published June 2008
Sparked by a community fundraiser that pulled in close to $23,000, the Harold Sims Clock Tower began ticking off time on the roof of City Hall in downtown Bonners Ferry on May 2, 2008.
With its distinct flair symbolized by its redpeaked cap, wrap-around catwalks, and floodlights washing across its five-foot diameter clock faces, the tower can be seen by motorists coming down both the North and South Hill.
An artist’s rendition of the clock tower also appears as a logo on the Bonners Ferry Chamber of Commerce website.
It took nearly a year to transform the former cinder block tower – which once served as the fire department’s hose tower in the 1950s – into what former city administrator Mike Woodward called the ‘capstone of downtown.”
“It was a diamond-in-the-rough just waiting to happen,” said Woodward. “The painting on the old tower had been peeling for years, the structure was chipped, and it was definitely an eyesore. It has turned into something very appealing that adds a lot of charm to Bonners Ferry.”
It’s not the first time a clock tower has been proposed for the downtown area, or that a large timepiece has been anchored on Bonners Ferry’s Main Street.
Seven years ago, architects designing the city’s downtown revitalization plan penciled in a clock tower in its original conceptual drawing. But the idea was eventually scrapped due to a lack of state funding.
In the early 1980s, a four-foot square clock hung on a pole in front of the now defunct 1st Security Bank on Main Street. It was later moved one block south around 1992 before it was carted off to the city’s diesel shop, where it was eventually sold in a city surplus sale.
The clock tower’s dials displaying a threedimensional appearance were designed by Bonners Ferry’s Gini Woodward. North Idaho Ironworks fabricated the 350-pound catwalks and workstations mounted below the clock’s four faces.
The four-faced clock tower was named to commemorate the city’s former Mayor Harold Sims, whose mark on Bonners Ferry is still felt today. During his tenure, Sims – who was the city’s longest-serving mayor (1974-1999) -helped upgrade the Moyie Dam while overseeing the construction of a new City Hall and fire hall.