National Register of Historic Places


Piedmont Charcoal Kilns

Uinta County, Wyoming

Date Added to Register

Thursday, June 03, 1971

Smithsonian Number

48UT54

Read all about it

Built for the purpose of processing charcoal to be used in mining smelters, the Piedmont Charcoal Kilns represent a unique type of structure that once was found in abundance on the frontier. The advent of such industries as charcoal production did not begin until the Union Pacific completed laying its tracks through the area in the latter part of 1868. Piedmont was one of the many railroad stations established along the line and served as a terminal for helper engines. It possessed a round house, water tank, telegraph office and a few business establishments. A short distance to the west was another such station called Hilliard. The two station's close proximity to the mines in Utah combined with the ready availability of timber in the nearby Uinta mountains made them ideal locations for charcoal processing and shipping. At one time over forty kilns were in operation in the general vicinity, and in 1873 it is estimated that over 100,000 bushels of charcoal per month was being produced. Five kilns were constructed adjacent to Piedmont Station around 1869 by Moses Byrne.

For making charcoal, the kilns were filled to the top with wood, a fire started and then they were sealed in such a way that the fire could be regulated. The wood was allowed to slowly smolder for several days. At the end of the necessary time the drafts were closed, the fire was allowed to die out, and the wood was allowed to cool. Most of the charcoal was shipped to the Salt Lake Valley, but small quantities also went to Fort Bridger for use in the blacksmith forges and heating stoves. The price of charcoal reached 27 cents per bushel during the time of peak demand but fell to only 7 cents in the declining years of business. Today, the abandoned Union Pacific grade serves as a county road, Piedmont is a ghost town, and the surviving kilns serve as an impressive reminder of the activities that took place.

Department of State Parks & Cultural Resources