When something has been around your entire life--something that's as much a part of your "hometown DNA," shall we say, as anything could be--it's weird when it's no longer there.

In 2020, I stood and watched as the wrecking ball brought down Gabe's Tower, a local icon that was once THE glamorous hot spot for Owensboroans AND travelers. As a teen, I saw it every day I returned home from Daviess County High School. And today, I live in the Masonville area and drive roughly the same route into town. It's STILL weird not to see the old hotel standing there.


Fast forward to 2022, and the Owensboro skyline is about to change again.

Google Street View
Google Street View

Earlier this year, we learned that a contractor had been hired to demolish the old OMU Elmer Smith Station on Highway 144. It began with the decommissioning of water and power plants near the old Owensboro Middle School. The plant itself has been defunct since 2020 and now we'll see one more big step taken toward the removal of the entire facility.


OMU recently sent customers a letter announcing that this Sunday, December 4th, the plant's two stacks will come down at around 8 AM. Naturally, there will be those who will want to see the demolition, so it's important to know that from approximately 7:45 AM until 8:15 AM, Highway 144 will be closed from Daniels Lane to the overpass. Traffic will be rerouted, and cars will not be permitted to park along 144.

Law enforcement will join other emergency personnel in ensuring no one gets inside a perimeter that will be designated for the demolition.

Leading up to the felling of the stacks, there will be siren blasts at the two-minute and one-minute marks and then a countdown to the event itself.

Karen Davis
Karen Davis


In operation since 1964, the first Elmer Smith Station was shut down in 2019; the second followed in 2020. Here's why the closure was necessitated, according to the Owensboro Municipal Utilities website:

Although the plant was maintained for efficient and reliable operation, operation and maintenance costs significantly increased in recent years.  Increasing costs of compliance with new and emerging environmental requirements along with historically low natural gas prices and wholesale power market prices remaining at low levels, and increasing use of renewables were also determining factors in the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) resulting in the decision that the long-term continued operation of the units was no longer in the best interest of OMU.

This Sunday morning will mark the end of a long era and, yes, a permanent change in the Owensboro skyline.

And now we await whatever news may come about the future of the massive property. But the Elmer Smith Station will most certainly be missed.

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