Former AEP power plant smokestacks demolished

Photo by Janelle Patterson The final two smokestacks at the former AEP power plant north of Beverly and Waterford stand in their final moments Friday morning.

BEVERLY–With a boom and shockwave of air and dust, landmarks seen across the valley for decades collapsed Friday.

“My grandad, dad and mom all worked there,” noted Sarah Poulton, 39, of Marietta, in the early morning as she watched the final two stacks of the former AEP power plant fall. “My brother even worked there for a short time so it was really an end of an era.”

The stacks toppled to the ground just after 6:30 a.m., with smoke billowing out of the falling towers and lifting dust multiple stories in the air across the Muskingum River. Now, all that’s left are small buildings and steel structures which once lifted power to the grid. The plant closed in the late spring of 2015.

Poulton recognized the impact not only on her family but also the community.

“Grandad retired from there,” she said. “It was economically hard on the area to lose those jobs, my dad left in 2007.”

Photo by Janelle Patterson Smoke billows from the final smokestack at the former AEP power plant north of Beverly and Waterford Friday morning as a controlled blast removes the final landmark.

But Poulton still brought her children to Hackney Road, just past the Monroe County line on Ohio 60, where onlookers gathered with lawn chairs, standing in truck beds and with smartphones out to film the final fall.

“We came up and met mom and brought the kids to see it,” she explained. “I grew up in Churchtown so we could always see the stacks there.”

Always seeing the stacks, that’s what Kenneth Roe, 59, of Stockport and Brannon Turner, 39, of Vienna, noted as they watched them fall Friday.

“We could see the towers from a house in Boaz–granted, that’s one of the highest points in Wood County,” said Turner.

“You always knew where you were when you were hunting out here,” added Roe. “You could orient yourself on the direction of the stacks. I remember them being built in in 1964.”

Photo by Janelle Patterson Local residents gather at Andrews Cemetery in Morgan County to watch the final two smokestacks at the former AEP power plant north of Beverly and Waterford collapse Friday morning.

Roe said he grew up in the area and drove past the landmark every day of his adult life.

“I had a couple of uncles that worked there, it employed a lot of people,” he said.

AEP’s coal power plant on Sparling Road officially went off line May 14, 2015. It was purchased later that year by Missouri-based Commercial Liabilty Partners LLC, which went to work preparing the land for future development.

The AEP Muskingum River Plant facility had a generating capacity of 1,425 megawatts that sat across both counties, and shortly after opening, soon reached between 350 and 400 employees.

“I used to see it all the time when I was camping up around here,” said Leroy Hutchinson, 83, of Fleming. “I missed the first explosions a couple weeks ago but was told you’d first see a puff of smoke out of the top before the stack would come down. That’s exactly what happened this time… I knew so many guys that worked there.”

Photo by Janelle Patterson Leroy Hutchinson, 83, of Fleming, watches the end of an era as the final smokestacks from the coal-fired AEP power plant north of Beverly and Waterford are brought down Friday morning.

Ohio 60 was closed between 6:25 and 6:35 by Ohio State Highway Patrol and sheriff’s deputies Friday morning to control the blast radius.