Thursday, January 15, 2009

Nevada is a mining state. We visited these charcoal kilns south of Ely.  Built in 1870 by Italian craftsmen they are monuments to rock laying.  Each kiln is about 30 feet high and 28 feet wide. When operational they were filled with wood, first through the bottom door and then by way of a ramp built on the back hill side through the second level door.  Each kiln would hold approximately 5 to 6 acres of wood from the surrounding hills, cedar and pinyon pine.  The wood was burned for days.  Draft was controlled by closing and unclosing side vents according to the color of the smoke.  The charcoal was used for smelting silver from the regions mines.  The demand created clear cut land up to 35 miles in radius from the kilns.  I'm glad it has grown back. I was humbled by  the exactness and quality of the stone work.

The interiors of the kilns created an echo chamber that amplified the sounds of foot steps and voices.  The bottom doors faced north.  The kilns fit so beautifully into the environment.  Truly works of art.

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