Colgate Clock – Clarksville, Indiana - Atlas Obscura
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Clarksville, Indiana

Colgate Clock

The massive, original Colgate Clock is mounted on a defunct factory building that was once a prison. 

“The Colgate Clock,” for many, refers to the illuminated octagonal clock in Jersey City, which sits on top of an oversized tube of toothpaste facing Manhattan. That clock by the Hudson River, though, is a knockoff.

The real deal, New Yorkers may be surprised to know, is on the banks of a different river (the Ohio) across from a different bustling metropolis (Louisville, Kentucky). Since November 17th, 1924, the original 40-foot Colgate Clock has been mounted on top of the Colgate-Palmolive factory in Clarksville, Indiana. It is visible from nearly two miles away.

The Colgate Clock is one of the world’s largest single-facing clocks, with each hand weighing in at over 500 pounds. It was built to celebrate the company’s centennial in 1906. (For the record, Colgate produced its first toothpaste in 1873.) The clock sat on top of the company’s Jersey City facility until it was replaced and moved to Clarksville in 1924.

The Clarksville site had been a state prison before being converted to a factory by Colgate-Palmolive in 1923. For a brief period of time, it was both, as prisoners stayed in cells at the location during the building’s conversion. The factory was operational until 2005. However, when the factory closed, the ticking behemoth remained. As developers debate the fate of the building, the Colgate Clock may be in for another big move.