The La Plata County Courthouse clock tower bell has been reactivated after being silenced for 3½ months.
In recent years, some residents have complained to county government about the bell chiming at all hours of the day, especially at night during the summer when residents near the clock tower leave their windows open to let in the cool air. This summer, county officials decided to silence the clock entirely as a sort of “seasonal experiment.”
During that time, the company that installed the bell in 1891, McShane Bell Co. located in Baltimore, contacted county officials and told them they could insert a device that would keep the bell from ringing at all hours of the day. The courthouse clock tower bell will now ring from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Several residents were vocal in their support of reactivating the bell. The clock tower is part of Durango’s history, and many believe that those who move close to it should not try to change a historical feature of the town. Some residents compared the bell’s critics to those who similarly complain about the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad train whistle or air traffic noise after moving near an airport.
In a poll question conducted this summer on The Durango Herald’s website, 91% of respondents were in favor of keeping the chimes activated.
“Whether or not we go back to having the bell chime 24/7, we’ll have to see what happens,” said Ted Holteen, spokesman for La Plata County. “I’m just glad it’s back on. I live downtown, and I like when the clock tower chimes on Sunday, and then a few minutes later, the church bells chime – totally out of sync. Is it 11 a.m.? Is it 11:05? I don’t know. I just like the sound of them. I find it comforting.”