“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Fort Bridger in Uinta County, Wyoming — The American West (Mountains)

Town of Piedmont

Piedmont Kilns -- Charcoal Making


—Union Pacific Railroad —

Town of Piedmont panel image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, September 11, 2015
1. Town of Piedmont panel
Captions: Charles Guild, Marie Guild, Catherine Byrne, Moses Byrne Butch Cassidy, Calamity Jane, Guild Mercantile Store.
Inscription. Four panels are located at the kiosk
Town of Piedmont

Located west of the kilns, the town of Piedmont started out as a logging camp supplying ties for the approaching Union Pacific Railroad in the 1860s. It also served as a base camp for graders building the railroad bed over nearby Aspen Mountain. More and more people moved to Piedmont to work for the railroad or logging operations. The town became a thriving community - complete with a general store, hotel, school, post office, and several saloons.
First Residents
Among the first settlers in the area were the Moses Byrne family and the Charles Guild family. In fact, Piedmont was originally named Byrne, but the name was changed to prevent confusion with the nearby town of Bryan. Mrs. Byrne and Mrs. Guild -who were sisters and natives of Piedmont, Italy - chose the name of Piedmont which means "foot of the mountains" in Italian.
Local Legends
In 1896, Butch Cassidy met up with his boys in Piedmont before riding off to rob the Montpelier, Idaho bank. Treasure seekers still search for the stolen gold reportedly buried nearby. Calamity Jane, frontierswoman and professional scout, apparently lived in Piedmont as a young girl.
Town's Passing
Around 1901, the railroad line was
Piedmont Kilns panel image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, September 11, 2015
2. Piedmont Kilns panel
Captions: (3 photos at the top left) Moses Bryne, seated center, Commercial smelter, Salt Lake County, Utah 1902; (top right) Union Pacific train in Piedmont; Map of rail-line from Piedmont to Salt Lake City.
rerouted a few miles north of Piedmont through the newly completed Aspen Tunnel. Without the railroad, the logging and charcoal businesses collapsed - it was the beginning of the end. Piedmont struggled on until the 1940s, when the Guild Mercantile Store closed for lack of business. Remnants of old homes, the kilns, and cemeteries still exist today.

Piedmont Kilns

With vast timber stands in the nearby Uinta Mountains, Moses Byrne saw an opportunity, and in 1869 he built kilns to supply charcoal for the iron smelting industry in Utah. The conical-shaped kilns measured 30 feet across and 30 feet high. These kilns are one of the best remaining, intact set of charcoal kilns in the region. The making of charcoal stopped in the early 1900s when the Union Pacific rail line was rerouted north of Piedmont, leaving Bryne with no economical means of transporting his product to market.
Kiln Design
Moses Byrne built the kilns out of local materials - sandstone and limestone. Each kiln has a large doorway and a high-placed, back-side window for loading cordwood. Vent holes were designed around the bottom of each kiln so that charcoal makers could adjust the airflow during use. Once workers filled a kiln with logs, large metal coverings were mortared into place over the doorway and window to seal it before firing.

Charcoal Making panel image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, September 11, 2015
3. Charcoal Making panel
Caption: Charcoal yielded 25% of the weight of processed wood.
Charcoal Making

Charcoal, which resembles coal, is a brittle lightweight, black porous substance that is 85% to 98% carbon. This process, called pyrolysis, removes the water and volatile compounds from the organic material without burning it. For centuries, charcoal was favored as a fuel source because it burns hotter, cleaner, and more slowly than wood.
Much of the charcoal made at Piedmont was sent by railroad to mining ore smelters in Utah's Salt Lake Valley. Charcoal, which burns at more than 2,000ºF, is used in smelting - a process of extracting metal, such as lead or copper, from its ore. Charcoal was also shipped to Fort Bridge as fuel for blacksmith forges.
Workers filled the kilns with about 30 cords of pine logs, harvested in the nearby mountains. The logs were packed tight and double stacked end-to-end. The wood was lit, but not allowed to fully burn, just smolder. Charcoal makers controlled the heat by plugging small air vent holes around the base of the kiln. It took six to eight days of slow firing to reduce the wood to charcoal. Cooling took another five days. On average, 100 parts of wood yielded about 25 parts of charcoal, by weight.

Union Pacific Railroad

The construction of the transcontinental railroad was one of the most significant
Town of Piedmont Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, September 11, 2015
4. Town of Piedmont Marker
events in the history of the West. Town sprang up all along its tracks, some permanent, some short-lived. In 1868, the railroad arrived at Piedmont. Over the next 35 years, the town would experience thriving logging and charcoal-making industries, commerce, and population growth - all tied to the existence of the railroad.
Rerouting the Railroad
In 1901, the railroad completed a mile-long tunnel through Aspen Mountains, eliminating the previous rail route over the summit. Trains were rerouted from LeRoy to the tunnel, bypassing the town of Piedmont.
Helper Engines
Trains approached Aspen Mountains west of Piedmont required helper engines to ascend the steep eight-miles grade. A siding, engine shed, and water tank, were built in the town to house and maintain helper engines.
Delay of the Golden Spike
The Golden Spike ceremony, celebrating completion of the transcontinental railroad, was scheduled to take place Promontory Point, Utah on May 7, 1869. The day before, the train carrying Union Pacific Vice President Thomas Durant was halted at Piedmont by railroad ties piled on the tracks and 300 angry workers - who demanded $200,000 in back pay, Red-faced, Durant wired for the money and paid the workers. His car was hooked to the next train, and the historic ceremony took place on May 10, three days late.

Erected by
Town of Piedmont/ Piedmont Charcoal Kilns Kiosk image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, September 11, 2015
5. Town of Piedmont/ Piedmont Charcoal Kilns Kiosk
Wyoming State Parks & Cultural Resources.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Transcontinental Railroad marker series.
Location. 41° 13.188′ N, 110° 37.188′ W. Marker is near Fort Bridger, Wyoming, in Uinta County. Marker is on Piedmont Road (County Route 173) near Route 204, on the left when traveling south. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Fort Bridger WY 82933, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 3 other markers are within 4 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Charcoal Kilns (within shouting distance of this marker); Muddy Creek Camp and Crossing (approx. 3.5 miles away); Hastings Cutoff - Muddy Creek (approx. 3.9 miles away).
More about this marker. The kilns are located about 5 mile south of the Leroy exit on Interstate 80.
Also see . . .  Piedmont, Wyoming - Wikipedia. Piedmont, located southeast of Evanston, was settled about 1867 to provide railroad ties for the Union Pacific Railroad. Moses Byrne built several kilns here for producing charcoal, and Charles Guild established one of the first ranches in the Territory. Both Byrne and Guild were Mormon pioneers. (Submitted on November 10, 2015, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California.) 
Categories. Industry & CommerceRailroads & StreetcarsSettlements & Settlers
Piedmont Kilns image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, September 11, 2015
6. Piedmont Kilns
Piedmont Kilns image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, September 11, 2015
7. Piedmont Kilns
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. This page has been viewed 112 times since then and 49 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. submitted on , by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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