Gettysburg Tower Demolished

July 7, 2008 - 8:02 PM

( - The fields of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania serve as a Civil War memorial, but there always seems to be a controversy embroiling this 19th century battle site.

In the summer of 1863, Gettysburg became the deadliest battle ever fought in North America. The total number of Union and Confederate soldiers killed or wounded in three horrific days of bloody conflict was 51,000. It was the turning point in the Civil War and the beginning of the end for the Confederacy.

Recently, a different battle was fought in this national military park. It wasn't a battle over philosophy, principles, ideas, or land. The controversial battle concerned an observation tower that some said should never have been built.

Monday, it came down for good in a controlled implosion.

Press reports say that since its construction in 1973, townspeople and tourists labeled the 300-foot steel structure an eyesore. In spite of a chorus of protests, the so-called "national tower" was built in as a private, moneymaking venture giving tourists an aerial view of the battlefield for a $5 admission fee.

In June this year, the National Park Service won a court order allowing it to take ownership of the 6-acre property and bring the tower down. It was estimated then by experts to take about 40 carefully-placed explosive charges to do the job.

A demolition expert and owner of Demolition Controlled Inc, Mark Loizeauz, said the tower's intricate design presented unique challenges to those seeking to topple it.

"This is more of an industrial structure. It is a rigid, tough structure that you might find in an oil refinery, for example," Loizeauz said.

Demolition Controlled, Inc did the job of toppling the tower on Monday, donating its services but retaining rights to film the tower coming down.

For the National Park Service, the demolition of the controversial viewing tower is the first step in a multi-phased restoration project at Gettysburg designated for completion in 2015.