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The Missourian on Thursday got a rare look inside the church steeple of St. Francis Borgia Church in Washington.

Joe Holtmeier, church maintenance supervisor, gave a guided tour of the historic structure, which dates back to the 1860s.

He is usually the only person who ventures up the steeple, and that is about once a month to check on the clock.

The tour did not go all the way to the top of the steeple, but it did reach the clock, which towers over the city of Washington and the Missouri River.

A series of ladders lead the way to the top of the steeple, and along the way there are several different levels to explore.

One of the more interesting stops on the way up is the level with the three bells.

Holtmeier said the Borgia bell is the largest at around 2.5 tons. Another bell is 1 ton while the other weighs about half a ton.

He explained that the bells no longer swing because the weight of them was causing the wood and brick steeple to shake.

The bells ring by way of an electronic mechanism that causes a hammer to strike the side of the bells. The bells are not original to the church construction and may have been added about 50 years later, Holtmeier said.

Another memorable spot on the steeple tour is the level that contains the clock mechanism, which keeps very good time, Holtmeier said.

From this level, a bird’s-eye view of Washington can be seen.

Holtmeier explained that he stops his ascent at this point and noted that the way back down the steeple is easier than the way up.