To many of the tourists drawn to its historic, colorful Main Street, Ferndale seems like a town frozen in time. But your Lost Coast Outpost can confirm that time does indeed pass in the Cream City. Oh yes. And for the past 100 years they’ve had a handsome and mostly reliable clock to prove it.
On Friday, Ferndale’s citizens and city leaders gathered to celebrate the 13-and-a-half-foot clock that’s adorned Main Street since 1922 when local jewelry store owner Fritz Mathes installed it in front of his shop. Speeches were made. Cookies were consumed. Even Ferndale’s most famous son Guy Fieri made the scene to express his admiration for both town and timepiece.
“This is a great day,” Fieri told the gathered crowd. “I love hearing the history about the clock. It’s such an important part [of town] to us. We always knew to keep time from it. I knew I was late all the time when I would look at the clock.”
There were times when one might’ve questioned whether the clock would reach this historic milestone. It’s endured a lot of abuse over the years, according to Nadene Bass, the president of the Ferndale Museum, who offered the crowd a timeline of the town timekeeper’s brushes with near death. We’ll sum up the clock’s trials, quickly:
- 1954: The clock was knocked over when a delivery truck left their door open and it caught it. It was repaired and was back up and running four months later.
- 1969: Vandals fired upon the clock destroying the face on one side and damaging the hands. Local watchmaker Chris Mathes would dutifully repair it.
- 1979: Another vehicle vs. clock collision. Glass was broken and the face and cast iron bezel were damaged. Again, Ferndale rallied to the clock’s aid and it was repaired. On the day it began ticking again students from the elementary school gathered to play music for it.
- 1988: Chris Mathes sold his jewelry store and transferred responsibility for the clock’s upkeep to the Ferndale Museum.
- 2020: The clock stopped and remained non-operational for two years. In May 2022, out-of-towner David Lippold inquired to a local shopkeeper about the broken clock’s status. One thing led to another, and David and his brother John ultimately took on the task of repairing the clock. They were able to get it up and running again in July of this year.
Tick on, old clock. You made it. May you remind the citizens of Ferndale of their tardiness for another hundred years.
To commemorate this important day, the Outpost snapped a few photos and rolled some video. We share that now.