More than five years after successfully decommissioning Missouri S&T’s World War II-era power plant, the university plans to remove the plant’s two chimneys due to safety concerns and maintenance costs. The university plans to remove the chimneys by the end of the 2019 calendar year.
Since S&T installed a geothermal energy system in 2014, the power plant has sat idle, as have its chimneys. Deterioration of the brick and concrete of both structures pose a potential safety hazard.
Workers will conduct environmental testing on the structures this week. Rolla residents and visitors to campus may see workers rappelling down the sides of the chimneys.
Since decommissioning the power plant in 2014, S&T has converted much of its energy use to a geothermal energy system. Over the past five years, the geothermal system has performed well, exceeding university goals of reducing annual energy usage by 50% and reducing annual water usage by over 10 million gallons. In fact, the geothermal system has reduced energy usage by almost 60%, reduced water usage by 18 million gallons per year, and reduced S&T’s carbon footprint by 25,000 tons or more per year.
When I was a student 1961-65 there was only one chimney for the power plant. Late one night one of my colleagues decided to climb the chimney and hang a bedsheet flag from the top. This flag hung there for several weeks before tearing loose. The student said it was the most frightening thing he had ever done since some of the iron rungs fastened to the side of the chimney seemed loose. No maintenance person from MSM would climb the chimney to retrieve the “flag.”
What about the building itself? Repurposed or is another campus landmark to be removed?
I assume this will be an explosive demolition/implosion type deal. The article didn’t go into any details though. I don’t know if the power plant building could be of much use for anything but it kinda has that industrial modern look that people seem to really like now so could see it fit into something. It is pretty much wall to wall with various pipes and cables of some sort. I took a tour once and it is pretty complex, even being old technology. All that stuff as well as the boilers would have to be stripped out for it to be of any use. I seem to recall some giant generator unrelated to the coal/steam system in there as well.
I also recall another student climbing one of the stacks and taking photos way back when. I can’t find the book but think the guy was named Robert Rock. He had nice black and white photos in all directions of Rolla at the time he pulled off that stunt.
I know the campus will look different without it but something that isn’t in use and a safety hazard without costly maintenance doesn’t make sense to keep around.
Will the project be documented with still photos or videos and posted where we can access it?
You should sell the bricks
How about selling some of the brick from the original stack to alumni (if not asbestos laced). Give others away to donors during fund raising campaign if they donate at a certain level. Provide a certificate of authentication. Remainder might be sold as cleaned vintage brick goes for a premium.
Can we talk Braden Lusk into a little “special project”?
Is the whistle still operating at noon and 1 pm?
I remember when I was a student at MSM in the 60s, they rebuilt one
of the chimneys. It was built from the ground up as I remember.
The Miner newspaper even ran a slightly naughty cartoon of the
construction, making fun of the shape that the upper part of the
chimney was taking. “Who’s in charge here?” was the caption, with Joe Miner
being the culprit in charge. Good times at MSM/UMR!
Chuck Lahmeyer EE 1966
Someone should publish a paper about this project.
Next we should put something unique in their place. Not the space needle, but I am sure the inventive folks at S&T can come up with something. It could compliment the Stonehenge structure on the North side
and be an icon and welcome spot for the campus.
I would like to know more about your geothermal system and how it replaced your fuel fired power plant . A project scope and process flow diagram with energy balance would be nice.
I think that this happened in 1978. Some person or persons painted hieroglyfics on one of these towers. It was an amazing feat. The speculation was that it was probably done by students involved in rock climbing.
Leave a Reply