Watch the Emotional Demolition of the OMU Elmer Smith Stacks in Kentucky
"Well, that's it." Those were the first words out of the mouth of retired OMU employee Dennis Davis as the stacks at the Elmer Smith station crashed to the ground early Sunday morning in Owensboro.
Just last week, OMU sent letters announcing that the plant's two stacks, which towered over the Daviess County landscape for decades, were scheduled for demolition.
I grew up on the east side of Daviess County in a small community called Thruston. I lived about two miles (maybe even less than that) from the Elmer Smith plant. If I were to design a postcard that covered the most vivid elements of my childhood, those stacks would be on it. In so many ways, I and all my Thruston friends grew up underneath them. Our families drove past them on a daily basis. Some kids called them the "smoke stacks". Others, "cloud makers". Anytime we looked up, they were there.
For Dennis Davis, that was certainly true. Dennis retired from OMU years ago. There's no doubt that his career there is a part of his family's history. But, so is the fact that, even after his retirement, he had a daily reminder of that long-time history with the utility. Dennis lives on Daniels Lane here in town, which basically sits across the street from the base of the plant. It's a literal and figurative part of his life.
Dennis and his family went outside early this morning and watched those stacks fall. In the words of his daughter Karen, "We did shed a few tears."
Karen says, "I remember when he would get called in on Christmas. My mom would say, 'Well, of course he's getting called in. It's Christmas, isn't it'?"
This will be the first Christmas since 1964 that the stacks won't be seen along the Owensboro skyline. The first Elmer Smith Station closed in 2019. The second followed suit in 2020. But the stacks remained. Well, until today.
Troy Duncan shared, "We live 6 miles from the Elmer Smith station.The demolition implosion shook our house. I can’t imagine what it was like for the people who live across the street."
Katie Freeman commented on social media shortly after the demolition. She said, "We felt them fall at our house."
There's no doubt that was the case for Dennis Davis and his family. Though there, the impact was even greater. As Karen says, "Many hours, sweat and tears poured into that place. All Dennis could do was watch and say, "Well, that's it."