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Midwest City dismantles a piece of history

Residents of the Atkinson Heights neighborhood watched on Monday and Tuesday as Midwest City's 1947 water tower was dismantled.
by Jim Beckel Published: July 17, 2012

A popular landmark has been erased from the Midwest City skyline.

It took less than two days for workers to dismantle the “Bomber” water tower near SE 29 and Mid-America Boulevard, across Interstate 40 from the main entrance to Tinker Air Force Base. The 160-foot steel structure, erected in 1947, served the city more than 60 years before being replaced by a sleeker, more efficient tower made of newer materials with a modern design.

Crews from a Michigan demolition company began early Monday to dissect the tower, using acetylene torches to dismantle it into sections that were lowered to the ground by a crane.

News quickly spread through the Atkinson Heights neighborhood, and residents stepped out of their homes to witness a piece of history being removed. Though residents have known for more than a year the tower was targeted for the scrap heap, many said they were sad when the tower's final days finally arrived. City leaders ordered the demolition after the new tower, located less than a quarter-mile to the east, became operational in 2010.

Bobbie Holland saw the tower every time she walked out the front door of her home on E Rickenbacker Avenue for the past 24 years. Her home is footsteps from the tower. Bobbie and her husband, Gene, have been Midwest City residents 51 years.

Monday morning, she had a prime view of the demolition as she sat in a glider swing.

“It's finally coming down. It will be missed by a lot of people,” Holland said as workers peeled off sections of the rusted dome.

As president of the neighborhood association, which includes about 400 homes, Holland has listened to neighbors share their memories of the structure, including older residents who admit to climbing the tower in their teens to paint girlfriends' names on the tower walls.

Holland's sadness is temporary. She says she understands the “price of progress.”

“For the continued growth of Midwest City, it had to come down,” she said.

She knows some of her neighbors wanted the tower to remain for sentimental reasons, but she supports the vision town leaders have for the future. Her home backs up to Town Center Plaza, the city's newest major retail development project.

‘It was definitely a landmark'

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by Jim Beckel
Photographer
Jim Beckel been a member of The Oklahoman's photo staff for 25 years. During that time, he and his cameras have covered virtually every type of news and feature story imaginable, traveling to all regions of Oklahoma to document events and provide...
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