There are only a few places where the old west charcoal kilns still stand tall, because for the most part, the ancient stone block and masonry design self destructed after extensive use. After a kiln collapsed, the materials were repurposed, so nothing remained except some rubble and a bare patch on the ground. This holds true in the busier mining areas where charcoal was in high demand, but in places where a mining camp went boom to bust in a short time, the kilns may have not been used long enough for the masonry to weaken. One such spot where the old kilns still look as fresh as the day they were built happens to be Wildrose in Death Valley National Park.
In the case of the Wildrose Charcoal Kilns, the mining industry in this region was riddled with dubious operations that were solely designed to bilk investors. There were also several overzealous mining operations that completely overshot the limits of feasibility in this very unforgiving region. The lack of deep forests also limited charcoal production at Wildrose, so this industrial operation was doomed from the start. The Wildrose Charcoal Kilns ceased operations in the lated 1870s shortly after they were constructed, so the condition of these bee hive structures is as pristine as it gets.
The signature bee hive shape of these stone block and masonry structures are fascinating to see in their entirety. Visitors can also experience the inside of these massive kilns, which can be a challenge to photograph. The Wildrose Peak Trailhead is right next door, so an entire afternoon can be spent at this location. Panamint Valley, Trona Pinnacles, Skidoo and several dispersed camping areas are also located nearby, which will fill in the gaps when planning a venture. The historic Wildrose Charcoal Kilns are definitely worth checking out, so be sure to chalk this one high on the Death Valley touring wish list!
Leave no trace!
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