By BRADEN LAMMERS
The second in a series of six smokestacks that used to be part of a power plant came crashing to the ground Thursday morning.
Later in the day, two more stacks and an adjacent water tower were set to be demolished as part of the effort to remove the infrastructure that formerly made up the Indiana Army Ammunition Plant, but is now being developed by the River Ridge Development Authority.
Demolition has begun on the north end of the 6,000-acre site to clear the first of two power plants — which was built in 1941 — that were in operation when the site was active. The second power plant is farther north and is also scheduled for demolition.
The purpose for clearing the site is to turn it into marketable property for River Ridge Commerce Center, a developing industrial park.
Many who spoke to an audience gathered to see the demolition said the tower’s collapse was symbolic.
“This facility powered the economic engine of Charlestown for nearly 30 years,” said Charlestown Mayor Bob Hall. “It’s laid dormant now more years than it had life. But we’re excited about today seeing another step being taken to close this chapter of the history of our community.”
River Ridge Development Authority President Mark Robinson talked about the community’s and local governments’ willingness to develop the site and the risk that was embraced to turn the former ammunition plant into a commerce center.
“This is just one step in the process of taking down the old and bringing in the new,” said Clark County Commissioner Les Young.
To bring down the massive smoke stack, Steve Murray, head of field operations for ADS Trinity, said the company was using a tripping method to topple the 150-foot-tall structure. He explained that pressure will be relieved from the front of the stack — where a section had already been cut out — using a jackhammer attached to a backhoe. The jackhammer would punch holes in the bottom of the concrete and steel structure to allow it to collapse.
“We’re going to let gravity take over ... and rely on the weight of the own structure to fail,” he said.
The same process was being used to take down a nearby water tower.
Complete demolition of both the property’s power plants is expected to be complete by late summer, according to officials with River Ridge.