Makers of one-of-a-kind clock plan move to Estacada
In the White House Situation Room, an intelligence management center where the U.S. President confers with advisers, there's a clock that highlights the sun's passage along the Earth.
The manufacturers of the Geochron clock, and the only facility in the world to build them, will soon relocate to Estacada.
Company owner Patrick Bolan purchased the building at 365 S. Broadway St. earlier this year. The business will move into the space, which has been vacant for several years, next February.
During a meeting on Monday, Aug. 26, the Estacada Urban Renewal Agency unanimously voted to award Geochron a grant to not exceed $26,408 to go toward building renovations, including a new storefront, renovated lobby and an ADA compliant bathroom.
When the renovations are complete, Geochron will rent the building's front 600 square feet to a retail customer and occupy the back 2,000 square feet themselves.
"What you need on your beautiful downtown Broadway Street is a high volume retailer, and I want to rent it to them," Bolan said during last week's meeting, noting that while Geochron creates and restores approximately 500 clocks per year, the store does not receive many in-person customers.
Upon its inception by James Kilburg in 1965, the Geochron was the only way to see the sunrise and sunset on Earth as they occurred.
The clock, which resembles a framed world map, shows the moment of sunrise, moment of sunset, duration of daylight, sun's meridian passage, sun's equation of time, legal time zones, Greenwich mean time, Greenwich apparent time, local apparent time and degrees of latitude and longitude.
In 2007, Kilburg retired and the company moved from the San Francisco Bay Area to Oregon City. Bolan purchased it in 2015.
Today, Geochron offers mechanical and digital models. On the exterior of the mechanical clock, a six foot long world map spins, showing the sun's position along the Earth. The maps highlight geopolitical and topographical boundaries and are printed onto film with a laser.
The mechanical clock, which consists of 300 pieces, take approximately 14 hours to build.
Geochron's digital model was released in 2018, after two years of employees developing the code. Along with highlighting the sun's position, the digital option has overlays for weather, population density, air quality, air traffic routes and locations of satellites such as the International Space Station and Hubble Space telescope.
The digital clock also offers location pins, inspired by many mechanical clock owners who asked to have a hole poked in the map film where they lived so the light would shine through when the machine reached that point.
"It's like Woody and Buzz Lightyear," said Bolan, comparing each model to characters from Pixar's Toy Story film series. "There's stuff you like about each one of them."
Bolan bought his first Geochron a decade after first seeing one.
"I couldn't get it out of my mind," he said.
Since purchasing the company, he's enjoyed connecting with his employees.
"The moments that sustain me are knowing the stories of everyone here," Bolan said. "All of them have great stories behind them."
He's also appreciated interacting with customers, including Bill Nye.
Bolan looks forward to relocating to Estacada.
"What we found is a great little property on a main street and a helpful city government that's small and approachable," he said.
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