Cañon City  

Sundial: 1028
State/Province:  Colorado Country:  USA
Dial Type:  Horizontal Dial Condition:  Fair
  Latitude and Longitude: 38° 27.420' N  105° 19.411' W
  • The Royal Gorge Bridge and Park is an amusement park southwest of Cañon City, featuring a suspension bridge and gondola ride across the Royal Gorge and the Arkansas River 1000 feet below. The sundial is on the south rim of the gorge (the far side from the entrance) behind the gondola station.
  • This sundial was constructed on the top of a 10-foot round, 75-ton column of reinforced concrete used to anchor aerial tram cables spanning 2200 feet across the Royal Gorge. Construction started in January 1969. The column is tilted away from the cables, so the dial face is inclined about 5 degrees toward the south. Hour lines are labeled with Roman numerals from V to VIII, with 15-minute marks between. The original gnomon -- two steel angles welded together -- was melted and twisted and the painted face of the dial severely damaged by a large wildfire in 2013, which destroyed most of the park. The tram has now been replaced with a gondola ride which doesn't use this anchor. The sundial was restore in 2015 but since has deteriorated.

    The dial was designed by William L. Peterson of Time & Space LTD, Denver, CO (said to be a sundial expert by a newspaper article, but I haven't found any other information), and painted by a local sign painter, Ray Hawes. The dial was properly laid out with hour lines extending from the corners of the wide gnomon rather than the center and corresponding non gap to match. Look carefully at the photographs and you will see that the hour lines at V and VII properly go to the opposite gnomon corner.

    Some time shortly after construction with many complaints about the dial being "an hour off," a plaque was added that read: "ENJOY THIS HOUR. The heavenly clockwork - wound long ago by our creator - affects all living things today except 'civilized' man. Governments have standardized and legalized time zones to regulate human activities. A Sun Dial keeps 'Solar Time' which varies through the seasons. The earth is rotating east at 15 1/2 miles per minute and orbiting the sun at 1,140 miles per minute. The operation of the universe pays no heed to man-made laws or 'daylight saving' time. (Set your watch by adding 1 hour.) USE WELL THE DAY."

    Now the sundial is largely ignored and forgotten, replaced by a Water Clock located just behind the Visitor Center. This Water Clock, the only one of its kind in Colorado, is a replica of the original, which kept time for 30 years before the Royal Gorge Fire in 2013.
General Information:Inscription:
  • Owner: Royal Gorge Bridge and Park
  • A smiling, winking sun says, "I count only the sunny hours."
    When repainted after the 2013 fire, the opposite eye winks.

    Originally, there was an Equation of Time plaque with an explanation.
  • Designer: William L. Peterson of Time & Space LTD
  • Builder: Painted by Ray Hawes, Structure by Heron Construction Co.
  • Construction Date: 1969
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Last Revised: 2021-11-10 15:30