Visit “Little Switzerland of Ohio” to see the “World’s Largest Cuckoo Clock”. Sugarcreek is now home to that famous clock, which was purchased by Walnut Creek Cheese and donated to the tourist town.
But the clock had its beginnings back in 1963 as an idea of Alice Grossniklaus, owner of Alpine Alpa, a restaurant and cheese house. She thought a large cuckoo clock would help bring trade to her restaurant. Designed and built by Karl Schleutermann, twelve years and $50,000 later, the clock was up and running.
This 23-foot- 6 inch tall timepiece originally stood in Wilmot on a hill in back of the Alpine Alpa restaurant. Alice and her husband, Hans, made it the #1 Swiss cheese shop in the country. But things changed over the years and all the restaurant fixings were auctioned off, including the clock.
Mark Coblentz of Walnut Creek Cheese purchased the clock at auction. It sat in a parking lot for two years while they looked for the perfect place to set it.
When the residents of Sugarcreek were trying to decide where to put the clock, many wanted it placed inside a building with an admission charge of about five dollars per visit. But Mayor Clayton Weller didn’t have the same vision. He wanted the clock to be free for all to enjoy, as often as they wanted.
When Mayor Weller sets his heart on something, he gets it accomplished. Land was purchased, the foundation set and a crane moved that clock between two crabapple trees without touching a limb. Clayton likes challenges, perhaps that’s why in his spare time he drag races.
Today the clock is on Sugarcreek’s Broadway Street. In 2012, the clock resumed its cuckooing duties after volunteers worked diligently to restore the electrical mechanisms. Those little Bavarian figures still do the polka.
Visitors are thrilled every thirty minutes when a bell rings, and out pops a cuckoo bird. Next a three-foot-tall couple on tracks dance the polka to Bavarian music played by a five-piece oompa band.
The dancers and band are made out of wood from the Black Forest in Germany. Currently, the dancers take a break as the wood started splitting on the lady’s dress. That would have destroyed her, if not fixed quickly.
The mechanical part of this clock is a marvel with many intricate pieces. When viewed through the back door, the system is even more amazing. Most incredible is the fact that this clock is forty-five years old. They even have the original eight-track tapes that played that first music.
A satellite on the clock monitors the sound system so it can easily be checked from home anytime. The people of this town really care about the clock. A group of men Clayton called the Cuckoo Brothers spend endless hours working on and checking the clock. Another special group, the Four Amigos, plant and care for 165 geraniums that surround the clock in the summer time. That shows real dedication to their community!
Guinness World Records was contacted regarding the clock’s official unveiling to verify that it is indeed the world’s largest. “It has to work as a real cuckoo clock, like you’d buy at a store,” said Mayor Weller, confident that his clock would be crowned the largest in the world. “A lot of work went into it,” he said. “Everybody says it’s never looked as good as it does now.”
A friend, Big Mike, secretly made all the arrangements with Guiness World Records, and one day Clayton was called asking why the street was blocked off and a crowd of people were at the clock. He knew nothing about these plans, so headed that way. What he saw surprised him completely.
Under a blanket on an easel was that coveted Guiness Book of World Records certificate. It verified that the clock in Sugarcreek definitely took the honors of the Largest Cuckoo Clock in the World. Today the office of Mayor Weller proudly displays that certificate.
In order to pay for this project without burdening the local residents, a bedtax plan has been used. Next year the land and moving expenses will be paid in full. Then the money will be used for repairs and maintenance on this local treasure.
People come from all over the world to visit the World’s Largest Cuckoo Clock. Many remember coming years ago with their families, but most are making new memories as they watch the mechanical marvel play its song every thirty minutes.
Visit Sugarcreek, Little Switzerland of Ohio, to visit their delightful small town and unique chalet-styled cuckoo clock. Cuckoo! Cuckoo!
The World’s Largest Cuckoo Clock is located at 100 N Broadway Street, Sugarcreek, Ohio. Take I-77 to Exit 83, which will be Ohio 39. Go west about 8 miles and turn left on Broadway Street. You can’t miss the Cuckoo Clock on the corner of Broadway and Main.