Piedmont Kilns

By: Doc Thissen

Photo by Doc Thissen. The location where the image was caputured was the siding that the Union Pacific railroad used for the cars.Photo by Doc Thissen. The location where the image was caputured was the siding that the Union Pacific railroad used for the cars.

Another fascinating glimpse into our industrial past is the site of the Piedmont Charcoal Kilns, located south of Evanston. Moses Byrne and his family built five kilns in 1869 to provide charcoal for Utah’s iron smelting industry, the kilns are unique structures rarely seen anymore.

How they work was they would place approximately 30 cords worth of trees, (one cord = 128 cubic feet) in each one of the kilns. They would then start a fire, not intending to burn the wood so much as to cause it to smolder for a period. They would seal the rear doors with metal and then fire the wood. The temperature was controlled by the vents that surround the base. After a period of cooling, they would then load the fresh charcoal onto trains to be shipped to Salt Lake City for use in blacksmith shops and gold and silver smelters. By the turn of the century, a replacement for charcoal was found: coke. Coke was much easier to find, was much more efficient and easier to control when burning.

Piedmont was another of the towns built by the transcontinental railroad as it pushed westward. Today, three intact beehive-shaped kilns remain and are duly recorded on the National Register.


1) http://wyoshpo.state.wy.us/NationalRegister/Site.aspx?ID=468

2) http://woodheat.org/cord-wood.html


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