death valley kilns


Go up into the Panamint Mountains to about 7000 feet in elevation , using a good road until the final mile or two , or a few , which has become  a dirt road  , and suddenly there are ten of these odd stone structures , all lined up . They look , to me , like tall stone beehives ; but they’re not , of course . They’re charcoal kilns .DEATH VALLEY 2016 197

What’s a charcoal kiln ? , you might say . Never seen a charcoal kiln ?  It’s where they made charcoal . Swiss engineers designed these ones and Chinese laborers built them and did the work . Each kiln held four cords of pinyon pine logs which were burned for a week to make charcoal for a silver smelter in the area . The kilns were built in 1877 and operated for only two years because the smelters closed down in 1879 .


The  kilns are up in Wildrose Canyon in Death Valley National Park . DEATH VALLEY 2016 177




Filed under humor

8 responses to “death valley kilns

  1. I never heard of these, Dan. How did you find them?

    • There used to be things called maps —– before GPS . I’m a bit of an explorer , so we drove up there a few years ago , and at the end of the dusty , rutted road , there they were . Quite amazing . The national parks ( Death Valley is one ) each , I think , has its own map . Suggestion though : get a recent map . In remote desert places , the roads wash out from time to time .

  2. Interesting construction. I’ve seen clay charcoal kilns and controlling the airflow was the key to their operation. It makes me wonder how these were used. Thanks for the photos.

    • These have holes around the bottom and a larger hole at the top ( pictured ) . The remote location is the fascinating thing to me . But , that’s where the pinyon pine fuel was .

  3. They do look like beehives. Great find, thanks for sharing it with us and for the history.

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