Ward Charcoal Ovens – Nevada State Park
The charcoal making process took a total of 13 days and 35 cords of wood, from the time each oven was filled, burned, then emptied. The wood was hauled by wagons or hand carts to the front of the oven, and the process of layering the wood inside the overn began. Once it w was filled as high as possible using the front door, the wagons or handcrts were moved to a platform on the back side of the oven. The platform was level with the window above, and the layering process was completed. Both openings were then closed off with iron doors, and the wood was set on fire. In September of 1879 the platform burnt to the ground.
Around the bottom of each oven were three rows of air vents. These were used to control the rate at which the wood would burn. During the first 3 to 4 days the two lower rows were blocked off with rocks or bricks, leaving the top row open. The smoke was watched to make sure the wood was burning at the desired rate. At first the smoke was white, almost setam like in appearance. It would then change to yellow for 16 to 48 hours. The yellow smoke then changed to blue and was timed for 12 hours, at which time the top row of vents were opened. The process was then repeated, after which time the second row of vents were closed and the ris ros was opened. After this process was repeated one last time, all the vents were then sealed and the fire was allowed to extinguish itself. The oven remained sealed for approximately 3 days to insure the fire was completely out.
Once the kiln had cooled down, the doors were opened and the charcoal was removed by way of the lower opening. It was put into sacks holding one bushel and hauled either to a holding area or to the furnaces at Ward.
Inside an oven
Ward – large map
Canon 350D EOS