WWII smokestacks being taken down

U of M to demolish smoke stacks

ROSEMOUNT, Minn. - Chances are if you've driven down Highway 46 in Rosemount, you've noticed the very large smokestacks left over from World War II.

After decades of vandalism, the U of M says they're a safety hazard and they must be demolished.

One set of five stacks was already torn down. Crews were busy Tuesday cleaning up the metal and concrete piles.

Another set of four stacks will be demolished soon.

The land the smokestacks sit on was once a gunpowder plant during the final months of WWII.

"When the end of the war came they ceased operations," said Ken Kerns, assistant Vice-President for Health and Safety with the University of Minnesota.

The U of M now owns the several thousand acres of land it calls "UMore Park," where most of the land is used for agricultural research.

Kerns says last year a study was done where staff walked through every inch of the park identifying hazards, such as the smokestacks, where people have climbed on and vandalized them.

Kerns says the metal from the smokestacks will be used to cover 300 manholes on the property.

The U of M hopes someday part of the land will be redeveloped, but know that could be far off. Kerns says he knows of contaminated soil on specific areas of the grounds, where gunpowder was manufactured. He says the U of M is studying the extent of the contamination in preparation for a study to find ways to clean it up.

At the same time, Rosemount Mayor Bill Droste, says he's interested in a new development for the land.

"Varied types of housing, retail, schools. It's a very large track of land," said Droste.


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