The Fireman’s Grain Elevator stood 120 feet tall at 20th Street and Wazee at the center of abandoned small buildings and remnants of our rail and distribution heritage. Surrounded by days gone by, it looked proudly over the area in silence.
Times had changed, and trucking had replaced railroads as the preferred means of commerce into the heart of the city. “Truckers Terminal” was now displayed in large painted letters on its huge flat walls. Tractor-trailers were parked on the bricks inlayed by the previous era. The bricks as well as the entire area would be scrapped for the beginning construction of Coors Field. The bricks were piled in a long and high mount that I called “the brick pile” hardly romantic…
Time had dictated the demise of the Fireman’s Grain Elevator and its part in storing and distributing grain to the Rocky Mountain West – the huge box like structure held tough until the end. To document its part in Denver’s heritage, I would witness its implosion with others. My goal was to get the best photograph of the day.
I admit, I was a bit territorial in my attitude to document this day on film, having roamed this area extensively. Confident, I thought the day belonged to me. Early in the day I did a cursory scouting trip to check out the scene, everyone was camped out 1000 feet to the west of the implosion site. My main concerns were the phototographers from the Rocky Mountain News and Denver Post who I respected greatly – they were also grouped with the others, good. Their view would be good with the backdrop of the city, but I wanted a place directly across the street, just 200 Feet from the implosion.
The day had arrived, and the area was being cordoned off for safety. I had to act fast, onto a fence I climbed, pulling myself and photo gear onto the roof. I set up my tripod, camera with motordrive, I composed my shot and waited. Soon a loud forboding siren gave a warning. Silence – BOOM-BOOM-BOOM-BOOM-BOOM – the building was going down, leaning to its right, it collapsed into the ground. I had captured it all, as if in slow motion. A huge cloud of blown up concrete dust soon surrounded and covered me. Into the dust, I shimmed down the back of the building, into the alley, and found 20th Street. I had done it.
-Kim Allen / DenverPhotoArchives.com