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An aerial view of a river in the middle of a forest in Vail.

The Stories of Vail

Did you know…?

Clock Tower

The Vail Clock Tower is an iconic landmark that appears in nearly all photos of the town – and with good reason. The tower has graced the place since it was built in 1965 by early Vail pioneer John McBride. With the glorious mountains in the background and the cozy Bavarian vibe, the Clock Tower is the centerpiece of Vail’s retail district. There’s even a shop in the tower. The flagship Gorsuch Ltd. store was opened by former Olympic skiers David and Renie Gorsuch in 1966. The ski shop originally occupied the first floor of the tower, but it has since expanded to additional floors.

In its early days, the tower had apartments on its upper floors. While you can no longer live in the Vail Clock Tower, you can still get an amazing photo in front of it. And the clocks are even accurate now!

Were the Clocks Once Inaccurate?

Vail’s Clock Tower clocks were inaccurate for years. Yes, clocks. There are actually two clocks that need to be set in the tower, and they had to match. Each clock had to be set individually, and then checked from outside to make sure the hands were in the same places. They rarely were. Because Vail had been such a laid-back town, no one really cared. In fact, being inaccurate was part of the tower’s notoriety.

But it didn’t stay that way. The task of managing the clocks was handed over to the town’s facilities maintenance department – and they would get flurries of calls about the inaccurate clocks. The calls would last a few weeks and then stop. All that changed in 2001, with the clocks now set by satellite.

A new receiver needed to be installed when it was noted the old one didn’t automatically adjust to daylight saving time. And someone still has to make sure the hands match. Other than that, keeping the time now happens like, well, clockwork.

What Else is Interesting About the Clock Tower?

The Clock Tower definitely adds major charm to the entire town. This is evidenced by the tons of artwork it has inspired. You’ll find it:

  • In photos all over the place, including a number of online photo libraries where you can download a copy
  • In paintings
  • On quilts
  • On holiday ornaments
  • On T-shirts
  • On postcards

The tower is fabulous during the day and stunning at night, thanks to the lights that add to its warm and welcoming ambiance.

Vail Clock Tower Over the Years

  • 1965: Year the Clock Tower Building was built by John McBride, an early pioneer of the area who moved to Vail with his wife Laurie in 1964
  • 1966: Year McBride built a post office next to the Clock Tower Building
  • 1966: Also, the year David and Renie Gorsuch opened the flagship Gorsuch Ltd. store on the first floor of the clock tower
  • 2007: Year David Gorsuch announced he was planning to redevelop the Clock Tower to give it an update, in part to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act
  • 2013: Year the Clock Tower got a new polymer slate roof

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Now that you know the history of Vail's clock tower, be sure to capture the moment with an epic selfie in front of this beloved icon. Interested in learning more about what makes Vail a dream destination? Stay connected with us through our newsletter!
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