It was the first steam plant Alabama Power Company ever built. It was 110 years old.

On Saturday morning, the Gadsden Steam Plant went down.

The steam plant in Gadsden changed many lives, from the over-a-century-old employees and their families to the hundreds of homes and businesses that it provided with electricity.

Around 8:06 a.m., Alabama Power Company imploded the plant in east Gadsden, located behind the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Plant. Both the boiler and the tower went down.

During the last phase of the plant's usefulness, it provided a direct steam source for its next-door neighbor, Goodyear.

Goodyear closed in 2020, so the plant's usefulness declined, and the technology was old school, very old school. The decision was made to demolish it. Plans for what to do with the old site have not been finalized.  

Joey Blackwell of Alabama Power Media Relations said, "This Saturday, we're going to be taking it down and exploding it. When we demolish it, the old boiler house and stack will still be up. Those are the final two buildings of the old plant, so there are no current plans for that site. We're hopeful someday something might come there."

Located on a 213-acre site off the Coosa River, the plant began operations in 1913. Plant Gadsden was the first plant built by Alabama Power and initially produced 10,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity—the then-record as the state's largest generation facility.

"There's a rich history with Plant Gadsden," said Steven Wright, who served as the final plant manager while it was still in operation. "It has been a very important pillar in the community of Gadsden, not only for power and helping the growth of Gadsden in their early days.

In 1949, a new steam plant was built on the Gadsden site that included two brand-new units. Both units could burn either coal or natural gas and dramatically increased the plant's power-producing capabilities, with each unit being able to produce 60,000 kWh. The original plant continued to produce electricity until 1952 and was then demolished in 1964.

The plant was officially decommissioned on Jan. 1, 2023.

"It's sad to see it go, but when you look across — we just built Barry 8," Wright said. "And Barry 8 is brand-new technology. What we've got now across the system is so advanced, whereas Gadsden was not. Even though this plant is shutting down — and it's sad to see — we're focused on celebrating its history and its important role in developing Alabama."

When the plant was decommissioned in 2023, most of its workers either retired or moved to other positions within the company. Wright became the plant manager at Plant Calhoun in Eastaboga near Anniston, where many former Gadsden employees are now working.

At its peak, Plant Gadsden had about 150 employees. In its latter years, those numbers had dwindled to 50 employees.

Jim' Zig' Zeigler writes about Alabama's people, places, events, groups and prominent deaths. He is a former Alabama Public Service Commissioner and State Auditor. You can reach him for comments at

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