Reading Grain Elevator - Preparation for Implosion

Preparations are underway for a very unique implosion. On February 17, 1999, we had the pleasure of touring the demolition site with Brent Blanchard of Protec Documentation Services to find out what will happen. The implosion is being done by Controlled Demolition Group out of Yorkshire, England, a very reputable firm that is not often in seen this area.

While the site may seem wide open, leaving plenty of room for the building to fall, this is not the case. On one side is a small building that must be protected, and on the other are 2 steel molasses tanks that need to be saved. The head house is constructed of solid concrete, reinforced with steel rebar. A building like this does not fragment well, making it hard to contain the fall to a small area.

To work around the problem, only the top half of the building will be demolished in the blast. A vertical cut in the building will separate the top into 2 smaller halves, with one falling to one side, one to the other side. The bottom half will remain standing, and will be wrecking balled, or imploded at a later date.

West Side - 2/17/99 East Side - 2/17/99
This picture shows the now exposed wall of the head house, next to which the silos once stood. The entire exterior wall around a middle floor on the building has been completely removed to weaken the structure for the blast. Everything from this floor up will be imploded, leaving the floors below it still standing. On the far right side of this floor, is the remains of the exterior column test shot on 2/3/99. There were 2 small grain dryer buildings along the east side of the building. They were wrecking balled very recently. In the bottom left corner of this shot, is a small building which must be protected from falling debris. Once again you can see the removal of exterior wall from a floor halfway up the building.

North Side - 2/3/99 This shot of the north side of the building (the side visible from I-95), gives a good indication of how the top half of the building will fall apart. Look at the middle column on the open wall. Just above and to the right of this column is a vertical cut made all the way to the top of the building. There may not be enough clarity in the scanned photo to show it, but this cut runs all the way to the top of the building, getting narrower towards the top. This is the line which will divide the top half of the structure into 2 smaller halves. One will fall to one side, one to the other side. The south side of the building has a similar cut.

North Cut - Interior View South Cut - Interior View
Viewed from the inside of the building is the cut where the top half will split into 2 pieces. This similar cut is viewed from the interior of the south wall.

Reading Interior - West Side First Hole Drilled for Explosives
On the left side of this photo is the row of columns that will be shot during the implosion. 3 holes will be drilled into each column and loaded with explosives. The set of columns on the right side with not be shot, allowing it to act as a hinge wall. This will allow the blaster to control the direction of the fall of the floors above. On 2/17/99, the first hole was drilled for the explosive charges. This column is one the southeast corner, near the interior column test shot. Several hundred holes will be drilled over the next week. These holes are all carefully measured and marked by the blaster before the drilling begins.

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Created: February 20, 1999