Boulder City - The Magazine is a monthly publication full of information about Boulder City and Southern Nevada. Boulder City - The Magazine features the Boulder City Home Guide, a real estate guide to Boulder City and Southern Nevada.

Boulder City History

Sun Dial Park
by Dennis McBride

Boulder City has a lot of overlooked pockets of history tucked away on its streets that most people have forgotten or never knew about. One of these places is Sun Dial Park, which sits on the corner of Birch Street and Nevada Way. It’s a shady spot with flagstones and a bench, and in the center a sun dial on a sandstone pedestal.

During dam construction days this entire block was occupied by the Boulder City Company Store which at the time was the biggest department store in the state of Nevada. Dam workers who shopped at the company store could take credit there and sometimes wound up owing more on their bill than they brought home in their paycheck.

When the dam was finished the company store was demolished. The houses that stand on Birch Street now, together with their little park, were built in 1937 by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power [LADWP] for the workers it brought into Boulder City to operate Hoover Dam.

The mystery is where the sun dial came from. At their monthly meeting in the Green Hut Café—today’s new Coffee Cup—on March 18, 1941, the Desert Garden Club announced their gift to the city of a sun dial “for our park.” Boulder City only had two parks then: Wilbur Square and Sun Dial, and Wilbur Square never had a sun dial.

Another story is that the sun dial was moved from the Boulder City Cemetery. At a Memorial Day 1946 ceremony, a sun dial was dedicated to the memory of R. G. MacDonald, who served as the Boulder Canyon Project’s Assistant Director of Power from 1940 until he died in 1944. During cemetery renovations some time after 1946 MacDonald’s sun dial vanished. Some say this is the dial moved into the park on Birch Street. Something else many have wondered about is the inscription on the dial: “Grow old along with me/The best is yet to be.” These are lines from Robert Browning’s poem, “Rabbi Ben Ezra.” Was there meant to be any significance in adding these lines to the sun dial?

After the dam’s mortgage was paid off in 1987 the LADWP sold its Boulder City properties. In 1989, Boulder City bought Sun Dial Park and has maintained it and its little sun dial ever since. But there’s one more mystery there: who was “Dennis” whose name is scratched into the concrete behind the sun dial?

Sponsored by the Boulder City/Hoover Dam Museum

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