Ward Charcoal Ovens
Yes, that's me in the doorway :) Come back tomorrow and see these as a starry NightScape!
These six beehive-shaped historic charcoal ovens are located about 18 miles south of Ely, Nevada in the Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Park. The ovens reduced charcoal from local pinyon pine and juniper from 1876 through 1879 for the smelting of silver at the Ward Mining District, just a few miles to the north. The ovens were eventually phased out completely due to depleted silver ore deposits and a shortage of available timber.
The ovens are 30-feet high and 27-feet in diameter at the base. The parabolic, beehive shape reflected heat back into the center of the oven reducing heat loss. The walls are 20-inches thick with three rows of vents. The ovens were made from rock quarried directly southwest of the ovens.
Each oven held approximately 35 cords of wood and produced about 1,750 bushels of charcoal. Wood was cut into 5-foot to 6-foot lengths and stacked inside the ovens vertically using the lower door. The first floor of the oven was filled leaving an open space in the center to serve as a chimney. The wood was then loaded up a ramp and through the upper door, which looks like a window, in the same fashion.
The loaded oven was ignited and the metal door was cemented shut. The vents were used to adjust the air drafts to suffocate the fire just enough to produce charcoal. Burners gauged the charcoaling process by the color of the smoke.
When the charcoaling was completed, in about 10 days, all air vents were closed and the fire died out. The charcoal was then cooled using water through the chimney. The oven was emptied loading the charcoal into bushel-size burlap sacks. parks.nv.gov/parks/ward-charcoal-ovens-state-historic-park/