Image Ronald Poslusny

A decommissioned coal-fired power plant in western Minnesota crashed to the ground with a thunderous boom Thursday morning as part of a planned implosion that marks the end of an era in Granite Falls.

Xcel Energy — the utility company that owns the Minnesota Valley Generating Station — used explosives to implode the nearly century-old structure as onlookers watched from a distance.

Onlookers observed a flash of bright orange light and a loud crack at the base of the massive plant. With an even louder crash, two towering smokestacks toppled as the rest of the building collapsed. Black debris flew in the air as dark smoke filled the space where the structure stood just moments before.

The coal-fired plant dated back to the 1930s and closed in 2009.  Built by Northern States Power, the plant had employed people in the town for generations. High school teams in the area were even known as the Kilowatts, in a nod to the landmark.

John Marshall, regional vice president for Xcel Energy, said he is happy the demolition was safe. He said the company has been preparing for the demolition for years by removing asbestos and other hazardous materials from the site. Marshall said the company will now clean up and recycle the concrete, brick and metal from the plant’s structure.