Time Progression

30 Mar



The Santa Barbara Courthouse houses a vintage clock works. We went to see it and found ourselves inside the mechanism…yes, inside the clock itself.


Giant arms reach out from the center of the mechanism to connect with the clock hands on the outside of the building, moving the hands minute by minute.

DSC09349The clock was created by Seth Thomas in 1929, one of the last one-of-a-kind clocks to be made in his factory.


The energy that runs the clock is gravity fed using three sets of falling weights. Gears, cams, pinions and rods carry released energy  to the clock hands and bell hammers.


DSC09340The resultant time is accurate to hundred thousandths of a second. And this clock was built when all creation tools were mechanical. The clock displays the exact time with hands visible on the four exterior sides of the clock tower and chimes on the quarter-hour and hour to be heard throughout Santa Barbara.


The ceiling of the clock room is filled with stars in a nighttime sky. Tiny dots of light recreate the constellations visible on the night of December 4, 1602 when  Spanish explorer Sebastian Viscano visited for the first time. It was the feast day of Saint Barbara, and Viscano named the encampment for the martyred saint.

DSC07635Though the courthouse clock paces time, in a certain sense time slows in Santa Barbara. There is time to go to the beach, stop and chat in the street and linger over the selection of raisin varieties in the Farmers’ Market. Time progresses slowly in Santa Barbara while the courthouse clock measures real-time as it is measured in the rest of the world.


2 Responses to “Time Progression”

  1. Betty April 2, 2014 at 2:39 am #

    Hello, Jill! After recognizing you and Dana in a photograph at the clock gallery on the front page of today’s (4/1) News-Press, I searched and found your wonderful blog. Wow! Happy trails!

    • Jill April 2, 2014 at 4:34 am #

      Hi Betty, What a surprise!We had no idea our pictures would be in there for the clock tour. Just serendipity. So glad you enjoy Medflies. Jill

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