ALBANY, Ore. — Part of I-5 near Albany was shut down Sunday morning as crews worked to demolish an old recovery boiler.
The boiler was part of a paper mill in Millersburg.
It was a momentous day for those from and near Millersburg Sunday morning. After years of sitting empty, demolition crews tore down the old International paper recovery boiler.
The building was vacant for ten years, but it only took ten seconds to tear it all down.
Hundreds gathered along the freeway to watch it all come tumbling down.
Some came to say good riddance, like a daughter who’d lost a father in a factory accident.
Others came just to watch a movie-like event.
And a fair number of old employees also showed up to say goodbye.
Former employee John Strupith said, “It’s been a landmark for years. You know, it’s going to be missed.”
“I would imagine that a lot of the people who worked here are sad,” said former employee Kevin Hansen.
They reminisced about the days it was once filled with life.
Hansen said, “I put all the shutters on the recovery. We did bearing changes, a lot of metal work.”
Old worker Leroy Haven said, “It was a good place to work.”
Fellow former worker Ray Cooley said, “I was one of the originals. I started on June 18th of ’56.”
“I didn’t plan on ever retiring,” said Strupith.
They also talked about how tragic it was when the building shut down.
Haven said, “Obviously, it’s very sad. A lot of us spent our lifetime working in the mill.”
Strupith said, “It means that a lot of people lost their jobs. It seems unnecessary. Half of the building was brand new. Seems like a waste of money.”
Though the building is now gone, old workers say at least they have their memories and each other.
“I had a lot of friends here. I still got friends here. Some of them are out here. It’s like a reunion,” said Strupith.
But as the dust settled and the crowds parted, there was a noticeable silence and people paused to reflect.
Hansen said, “I miss the noise. I miss the sound of the mill.”
As for the future of the property, International Paper representatives said they’re not sure what’s going to happen with it yet, but old employees and town residents say they’re hoping new business will come in soon.