The Man Who Made Pine Plains Tick

Once a week for many years Greg McEldowney would come and wind the Town Clock and keep it running. He passed on November 11, 2017. He was a keeper of Pine Plains history. Now he is part of it.

This video portrait of Greg was made in 2015.  He deserves to be honored.


Pine Plains, like most small rural towns in America, has its traffic light, its destination restaurant, and its memorial clock tower.


Every year, on Memorial Day, the town musters in front of the tower to honor our veterans who have served our nation in armed conflict.  We just assume the clock tower was built in their honor.

But there was one man who served his community in a very different calling and in whose memory the tower was actually built yet he is never mentioned in the flash of parades and politicians’ speeches.

Here, let Greg McEldowney tell the story:

looking at clock

After seeing this video, when you look up at the clock on the tower, will it ever be the same?

Postscript from Greg McEldowney:  “Much credit should be given to Mel Smith, James Storrow and Aubrey Kinney who did most of the work on the clock. I got involved later in the restoration with the installation and maintenance in 2002. Sad foot note: Bill Weigle who got the ball rolling on this years ago just passed away. Mel Smith and James Storrow have also passed away in the last 2 years.”

A note of thanks to George Keeler for helping me research this story.

7 thoughts on “The Man Who Made Pine Plains Tick

  1. All four Back to the Future movies are currently on Netflix.
    I am sure there is some sort of connection between the architecture of Pine Plains and the Back to the Future (1985) films; but I am not yet clear on what exactly the message is meant to be or was, but I’m sure it’s an exciting coincidence if nothing else.
    The “clock tower” in those three films which was struck by lighting looks eerily similar to Seymour Smith, two buildings which are certainly not towers just three story buildings with a clock face above four pillars. If you have seen the films then you may remember Doc Brown, played by Christopher Lloyd, babbling something about “Old-man Peabody having a crazy idea about breeding Pine Trees” and the film completely neglects to explain this thread and I am hoping someone has more information. Even more appropriate for this October season 2020, the film includes Doc Brown being attacked by Libyans at the TWIN PINES MALL, which becomes the Lone Pine mall after DonaldTrump-like- Biff Tannen altered the time line throwing Doc, Marty, & Eintstein into a tangential region of spacetime.
    Robert Zemeckis is also the director of both Back to the Future and The Walk (2015), the latter movie placed within the 1989 Back to the Future part II during the scene where the two hot police officers bring Jennifer home to their future home in Hilldale; Hillsdale being the town just east of Catamount Ski, coincidentally positioned North-East of Pine Plains, northeast being the original name for this entire region.
    I have also seen the exhibit in The American Museum of Natural History on 86th Street with dozens of models and diagrams of the Northern Dutchess area, everything from glacial movement to the Indians living around here under giant pine trees before the Dutch came to log and plant coniferous trees and lay rail.
    Contact me promptly if you are willing or able to assist my team and I in purchasing the 28-odd miles between the Rhinecliff amtrak and Wassaic Metro-North to implement advancements in rail-travel such as magnetic levitation and solar power generation. Restoring the railway with technology at least at the level the damned Chinese are currently using over there seems like an achievable and inspiring act connecting the region to rail as it was before big oil bought up all the tracks.
    Thanks for reading, I am procrastinating school work and chugging IPAs. God Bless America.

  2. Hi Stan. My father Fred Marshall also wound that clock for many years in the late 40″s, early 50’s. He was an apprentice for Harry Jackson, who owned the Jeweler/photography/ clock repair shop accross the street from the tower.

    1. Hi Doug,

      Thanks for that piece of history! We are gradually filling in the picture thanks to contributors like you. Keep in touch.


  3. Greg was an encyclopedia of knowledge and a great friend. He will be sorely missed. I feel blessed that he taught me as much as he did about clocks and antiques, and I’m honored to carry on his dedicated service by winding and maintaining the town clock.
    I plan to gather more history on the clock tower and create a site where it can be presented to the people of Pine Plains for public awareness and education.
    However, I plan on bringing awareness to much more than the only the clocktower. I plan on bringing awareness to what happens when great things fall into disrepair out of neglect, as well as the joy and satisfaction a community can all enjoy from group efforts to restore such historic treasures.
    Pride and a passion in a township or community can keep it all beautifully maintained.

    Dennis Williams

  4. I have seen some of your work & very much appreciate it. Thank you so much for this piece with Greg, it means a lot, we knew each other back in the 70s when his parents owned The Harlem Valley Times & he had his antique shop up the street in Amenia.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *