Death Valley: The Charcoal Kilns

We left Tehachapi in the morning, arriving in Death Valley in time for lunch and a late afternoon explore of the Wildrose Charcoal Kilns, a must-see for us.



The views and the history lessons began as soon as we entered the park.

The charcoal kilns complex, located down a pretty bumpy dirt road in Wildrose Canyon, is among the more remarkable historical-architectural features of Death Valley National Park. These ten beehive shaped masonry structures, about 25 feet high, are believed to be the best known surviving example of such kilns to be found in the western states.
These Kilns were completed in 1877, by the Modock Consolidated Mining Company to provide a source of fuel suitable for use in two smelters.  They were only used for two years (for a variety of reasons) and this short life may help to explain their remarkably good condition, more than 100 years after their construction.
When you enter them, one still smells smoke. They are beyond cool.
Why Charcoal? Charcoal is a black, porous form of carbon prepared by charring wood or organic matter in a kiln or retort from which air is excluded. Charcoal produced from wood retains its basic shape and texture but is converted to a 96% pure carbon content. In the 19th century and earlier, charcoal was used for a furnace fuel because it burned more slowly than wood and created a much greater heat that was needed for the refining of ores.
Evidence of those who came here before us abounds.


This was a wonderful , brief first afternoon in Death Valley. The exploring and delighting will continue for days. More about this amazing place to follow.


"Wilderness is not a luxury but
a necessity of the human spirit."
-Edward Abbey

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2 comments:

Karen Booth said...

Amazing that the charcoal kilns were only used for two years and have survived intact for so long. I like Steve's pose in the second to last photo and of course LOVE the moon.

Nick and Deb's Excellent Adventure said...

The beauty in CA never ceases to amaze me! So much to see.

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