‘Excitement’ in Russell
88-year-old landmark dismantled
RUSSELL — It was the end of the line for a local landmark in Russell this week.
On Tuesday, sparks were flying as Russell’s old city water tower was cut into pieces, and taken down.
“It’s kind of surreal for some people,” said Russell Mayor Hilary Buchert.
Even many visitors to Russell were familiar with the water tower, which stood in the community for more than 80 years.
“It’s something everyone was used to seeing,” Buchert said.
The water tower’s demolition comes after the city of Russell built a new municipal water tower in a location out closer to the highway. Buchert said the old water tower had deteriorated to the point where it would likely have been more expensive to fix it than to replace it.
“That water tower was originally built in 1935,” Buchert said.
After many decades of use, it wasn’t in great shape anymore. “The interior was starting to deteriorate and kind of rust out,” she said.
In addition, the 50,000-gallon tower was not in compliance with current federal and state safety standards, engineering firm Bollig, Inc. said in a blog post about the water tower project. The city of Russell is working with Bollig on improvements to its municipal water system.
A new water tower was constructed, and was painted this spring before Bandwagon Days, Buchert said. Instead of the teal blue of the old tower, the new paint job is red and white.
It was a few months before the new water tower could go into service, however. Buchert said the tower needed to be tested first, to make sure it was functioning safely. The new tower has now been in service for a week, she said.
Bollig Inc. said the total water tower project cost $1.76 million, but was funded with the help of grants.
The demolition of the old water tower did attract attention from Russell residents, Buchert said.
“We had some excitement,” she said. “A lot of people were watching from afar.”
With safety in mind, Buchert said workers went door-to-door to notify residents of what was going on. Extra precautions were also taken for the house closest to the water tower. A covering was put over the house’s roof, with a sprinkler system running to help protect it from falling sparks, Buchert said.
The demolition crew started by removing the peak of the tower, Buchert said. Then they cut the tower’s cylindrical tank into pieces, lowering the pieces to the ground with cranes.
It was strange to see the old water tower gone, Buchert said. However, the new tower was positive for the city.
“You’ve got to move forward sometimes,” she said.
Russell isn’t done pursuing water and sewer improvements for residents. The city is currently requesting about $4 million in state bonding, that would go toward part of a multi-phase utilities project to address problems like water main breaks and stormwater ponding.