Posted Online: April 16, 2013, 7:04 pm

East Moline water tower demolished

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By Anthony Watt,

More photos from this shoot
Photo: Paul Colletti
A portion of the old East Moline water tower at 10th Street and 20th Avenue is lowered to the ground as a crew from Iseler Demolition removes the 101-year-old structure on Tuesday, April 16, 2013. The tower was built in 1912 and held 300,000 gallons of water. A new tower at the same location is expected to be completed by Sept. 1.
More photos from this shoot
Photo: Paul Colletti
A crew with Iseler Demolition cuts apart the old East Moline water tower at the corner of 10th Street and 20th Avenue in East Moline on Tuesday, April 16, 2013. The tower was built in 1912 and remained in service until January of this year. Construction on a new water tower in the same location will start next week.
A century-old fixture on East Moline's downtown skyline was brought down Tuesday with a flare of sparks and the groan of tortured steel.

The 500,000-gallon water tower that served the downtown was built in 1912 and was at the point it would cost more to maintain it than replace it, Chip Drake, director of the city's water and sewer plants, said.

It was taken offline and drained in February, and parts of it were removed.On Tuesday, workers from Iseler Demolition Inc., of Michigan, armed with cutting torches climbed the tower to finish the job, aided by a crane on the ground.

Scott Iseler said his company does such demolitions around the country. "This is what we do for a living."

Tuesday, his crew burned slits into the steel of the white tank and its supporting beams with torches, punching through the metal in great showers of sparks.

Once, a huge triangular piece of the tank began to wobble as more and more cuts were made, causing a sound almost like sheet plastic being shaken.

The piece already was secured to the crane by cables so when it finally came loose, it dangled for several seconds before the crane operator lowered it to the ground.

For the upright supports that girded the tower on its central support, the technique was similar -- take it apart in vertical segments, almost like lumberjacks taking down trees -- and lower them to the ground to be cut into smaller pieces.

Mr. Iseler said the pieces being removed ranged anywhere from 6,000 to 9,000 pounds. A tractor-trailer hauled the pieces away to be recycled.

The demolition was expected to be done Tuesday, or today, Mr. Drake said. The project -- demolition of the old tower and replacing it -- is estimated to cost about $1.8 million. Other city towers are filling the service gap left by the downtown tower being taken offline.

The tower will be replaced by a more spherical tank atop a single, central pillar, he said. It's expected to be online by September.