This is a chimney stack at the former PenPly facility in Port Angeles. It was part of a plywood-making operation that went out of business after a 70-year presence on the Olympic Peninsula. Multiple generations of some families worked there. The mill was closed in late 2011 and the site was cleared. . .except for the stack. The stack met its end yesterday, but not without a fight.
Business took us to Port Angeles yesterday and afterwards we decided we’d go take a look. We got to a good vantage point an hour and a quarter early. After all, how often do you get to see a 175-foot chimney stack taken down? Turns out, for us, never so far. As the 3:30 appointed hour approached, the crowd around us grew. This was a big deal in the community and lots of people wanted to see it.
If you look at the bottom of the stack there’s a cloud of dust billowing out from 20 holes filled with explosives. As the explosives detonated, a cable pulled the stack to the left, in the direction it was intended to fall. It seemed to lean ever so slightly left but it didn’t fall. The cable either broke or released and the resilient stack returned to its locked and upright position. The dust cleared. A group of men in hard hats approached carefully, gingerly, then began to work around it with increasing resolution.
By the time we left, an hour later, it was still standing. The local paper reported yesterday evening that workers pulled out a big electrical saw and torches to sever stuborn steel rebar that insisted on doing its job of keeping the stack standing. It finally tilted and fell around 6:15, after most of us had give up and gone home.