Denver, Colorado

Cranmer Park Sundial

This Chinese-style quartz sundial was saved in its final hour.  

What is now Cranmer Park was once called Mountain View Park, for obvious reasons.

Although it is one of the smaller parks in Denver, the well-situated Cranmer Park has long been a local favorite. It is located on the crest of a hill, providing a generous vista of the surrounding Rocky Mountains. An etched, labeled outline along the perimeter of the red sandstone viewing platform traces the outline of the surrounding mountain range, helping visitors identify whichever peak they may be facing.

Cranmer Park’s focal point is a large Chinese-style quartz sundial, first installed in 1941, and now nearing its third iteration. The sundial’s first destruction in 1965 was swift and dramatic: Vandals exploded dynamite beneath it. A replica was installed in 1966 and has had a slower and steadier degradation.

The second sundial has now seen half a century of wear and tear from the elements and the local children who love to clamber on its upward-tilting facade. Faced with a cracking sundial and a crumbling platform, the Denver community recently raised $1.8 million to do a full restoration of the park, mending the scarred sundial and re-laying and reinforcing the surrounding sandstone.

Although the Cranmer Park sundial was originally designed in a Chinese style, the polar chart at its base features Western astrological signs. The chart also includes an explanation of how to calculate the hour based on the position of the gnomon’s shadow. Lastly, there’s also an unmissable clue to one of the more curious features of a sundial like this one. Due to the Earth’s rotation around the sun, the time’s display location changes with the season. The top side of the sundial reads “In summer on this side ~” and the reverse “~ in winter here I mark the hours.” With the coming restoration, it is certain to mark many more.

This post is promoted in partnership with Dogfish Head Brewery. To discover more places along the Ale Trail head here, and for any questions, send us a note

Know Before You Go

The park is located off of Colorado Boulevard, between East 1st and East 3rd avenues.

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