Near Fort Bridger in Uinta County, Wyoming — The American West (Mountains)
Town of Piedmont
Piedmont Kilns -- Charcoal Making
— Union Pacific Railroad —
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.
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.
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
Around 1901, the railroad line was 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.
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.
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
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
The construction of the transcontinental railroad was one of the most significant 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.
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
Erected by Wyoming State Parks & Cultural Resources.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & Commerce • Railroads & Streetcars • Settlements & Settlers. In addition, it is included in the Transcontinental Railroad series list. A significant historical date for this entry is May 6, 1868.
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. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Fort Bridger WY 82933, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 4 other markers are within 11 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Charcoal Kilns (within shouting distance of this marker); Muddy Creek Camp and Crossing (approx. 3½ miles away); Hastings Cutoff - Muddy Creek (approx. 3.9 miles away); Site of Fort Supply (approx. 10.2 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(Submitted on November 10, 2015, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California.)
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on November 10, 2015, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California. This page has been viewed 506 times since then and 117 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. submitted on November 10, 2015, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California.