Weeks after the 13-story Tutwiler Hall was imploded on the University of Alabama campus, an even taller sight is being removed from the Tuscaloosa area skyline.

Parker Towing, a private company that moves cargo up and down the Black Warrior River, has begun the demolition of the nearly 200-foot grain elevator that has long loomed over the river's northern banks.

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Allison Phillips, a spokesperson for Parker Towing, said the grain elevator was first commissioned in 1970 and stands at 182.5 feet tall. It has been defunct since the 80s, though, and the property on which it sits was sold to Parker Towing by Alabama State Docks in 2020.

Phillips said Parker Towing is in the process of rehabilitating the property and building their state-of-the-art Tuscaloosa County Riverport and as part of that project, the grain elevator must come down.

Phillip said there is a significant breach in the lower of the silo's foundation, making it unusable and an ongoing safety hazard. The existing conveyor system and loading dock at the site are currently under repair and will be recommissioned for outgoing bulk freight, she said.

“Parker Towing has commissioned this facility to allow area industry access to the most efficient and environmentally sustainable transportation opportunities available," said Grady Coble, Vice President of Ports and Terminals at Parker Towing. "Local businesses have been quick to respond, with bulk and break bulk cargos arriving by barge, storing the cargo in the reconditioned warehouse, and then shipping it to the customer upon request. This has brought jobs and economic viability to businesses throughout the Greater Tuscaloosa Area.”

The silo has long been forbidden fruit for thrill-seekers in the area who for years have found ways to climb its stairs and ladders on urban exploration expeditions like the one in the video below.

Those adventures were not without consequences, though -- the Tuscaloosa News reported that a teenager was seriously injured falling from the silo in 2009.

Phillips said Parker Towing is documenting the demolition of the area icon earnestly and will publicly provide photos and video of the process after it ends.

Stay connected to the Tuscaloosa Thread for updates on the process of the demolition as they develop.

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