Sundials - World's Oldest Clocks

North American Sundial Society

River Falls  

Sundial 185
State/Province:  Wisconsin Country:  USA
Dial Type:  Vertical Condition:  Excellent
Latitude:   44° 51' N Longitude:   92° 37' W
Location:
  • University of Wisconsin
    S. wall of Kleinpell Fine Arts Building
    Between S. 4th and S. 6th St, south of E. Cascade Ave.
 
Description:
  • The inspiration for this sundial, at one time the largest vertical dial in the world, came from Dr. Swensen visiting Heidelberg castle that had a large vertical dial on the wall of the castle. Construction of the Univ. of Wisconsin dial began in 1994 on the south wall of the Kleinpell Fine Arts Building. The result is a 30 x 56 foot vertical dial of anodized aluminum with analemmic hour markers, and day lines to mark winter and summer solstice, Candelmas (1/31), Martinmas (11/10), Beltane (5/8) and Lammas (8/4), vernal and autumnal equinoxes. The massive south-facing vertical dial takes up the entire wall of the three-story fine arts building. The hour markers are gold on the 'Spring' side and brown on the 'Fall' side with 7 day intervals marked on each.

    The hour mark analemmas are made from 1.25 inch wide by 0.75 inch thick aluminum bar. The daylines are smaller 1.25 x 0.5 inch aluminum.

    The gnomon was a project of experimentation, determining that the classic rod or rod and ball did not project a strong enough shadow. In the end, a double gnomon was created of two rods that act as a pointer, reading time at the apex of the two shadows.
 
General Information:Inscription:
  • Owner: University of Wisconsin
  • Dedication plaque for the Dean Swensen Sundial, listing contributors, designer, builder, and implementer.

    Plaque describing dial operation
  • Designer: John P.G. Shepherd
  • Builder: Gene Olson - Mettle Works, MN
  • Construction Date: Finished May 1995; Dedicated Oct 1995
 
References: Web Links:
  • You can see a time lapse of the shadows at
    http://www.uwrf.edu/AboutUs/Buildings/Sundial/TimeLapseSequence.cfm

Last Revised: 20 Dec 2015