Mount Angel’s Glockenspiel celebrates the German-Swiss-Bavarian heritage of the village and its famous Oktoberfest. The first figure represents the Native Americans who came to this place to communicate with the Great Spirit, followed by figures depicting the founders of both the civil and religious communities of Mount Angel and the frivolity and fun of the Oktoberfest.
The Glockenspiel plays at 11 a.m., 1, 4 and 7 p.m. daily. The clock is large and clearly visible; the bells are sharp and precise in their sound. However, the animated figures are the real traffic stoppers. Crowds gather on the appointed hours to watch the figures as they dance about and listen to the resonance of the bells.
The first floor of the tower above street level, displays six life-size hand-carved wooden figures crafted by local wood carvers.
The Story the Glockenspiel Shares
T.W. Davenport, the original surveyor of the Mount Angel area noted that Indians traveling through the valley climbed the butte to pray to the Great Spirit. The Indians told him that coming to this mount to pray had been a tradition of their ancestors. They called the spot “Tapalamaho,” the Mount of Communion. Thus the first presentation is a noble Kalapuya Brave at prayer.
Mr. and Mrs. Robert Zollner were the first German settlers to come to this part of the valley in 1867. They migrated from Rathenberg in the Kingdom of Bavaria.
With the coming of Mathias Butsch in the fall of 1878, the Catholic community of Mount Angel found their leader. He was instrumental in building the first church, a community store and the railroad station. Most importantly, he brought the Benedictine monks to Mount Angel. He is still widely known as the “Father of Mount Angel.”
Prior Adelhelm Odermatt came from Engelberg, Switzerland and established the Benedictine Monastery in 1881. He was Mount Angel’s first pastor. He suggested the name “Mount Angel” for the small community, the anglicized version of Engelberg, his Swiss home.
The Benedictine Sisters came to Mount Angel in 1882, from the Convent of Maria Rickenbach in Switzerland. Sister Bernadine Wachter was the first Prioress of the convent and new school, built in the shadow of Prayer Mountain.
The town flourished over the years, and in 1966 took on a Bavarian feeling when the first Oktoberfest was celebrated. The Papa Oom Pah figure is the official mascot. He is a jolly Bavarian with rosy cheeks, a flowing mustache, lederhosen, and a huge tuba. He represents all the fun and excitement of the Northwest’s best-loved folk festival and our Bavarian cultural heritage. Oktoberfest funded this figure.
The grand finale happens on the highest level of the tower. When the shutters open, we look to our future. A boy and a girl, dressed in traditional Bavarian costumes, play on a garden swing while singing the song Edelweiss.