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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Panaca in Lincoln County, Nevada — The American Mountains (Southwest)
 

Panaca Summit Charcoal Kilns

 
 
Panaca Summit Charcoal Kilns Marker image. Click for full size.
By Trev Meed, April 12, 2009
1. Panaca Summit Charcoal Kilns Marker
Inscription. These beehive-shaped kilns were built in the mid-1870's to produce charcoal for the silver mills of Pioche and Bullionville, Nevada. Skilled stone masons quarried Rhyolitic tuff from nearby outcrops. The blocks were carefully dressed, then joined with mud and lime mortar. A third kiln was originally located to the west of the two remaining structures. The Panaca Summit Kilns were used until the late 1890's, when the mills at Bullionville closed.
Local silver ore processing required large quantities of fuel. Since charcoal burned twice as hot as cordwood and was more economical to transport, it became the preferred fuel for smelting. Swiss and Italian woodcutters, known as "Carbonari", had perfected the charcoal-making process in Europe. They brought these skills to the mining regions of Nevada in the mid-19th century. "Billets" or five foot lengths of wood were cut from the trunks and branches of pinon pine, juniper or mountain mahoghany. These were hauled to the kiln site and stacked in two vertical tiers within the ovens. Dry grasses and kindling were stuffed into the central "chimney" of the wood stack and ignited with live coals. Openings around the base of the kiln regulated the air flow, creating a steady fire; the vent at the top of the kiln was plugged to slow and control the burning rate. The carbonari would carefully
Panaca Summit Charcoal Kilns and Marker image. Click for full size.
By Trev Meed, circa 2013
2. Panaca Summit Charcoal Kilns and Marker
The marker can be seen in the lower left-hand portion of the photograph, just above the wooden fence post.
oversee the combustion of the stack, which required up to 30 days to complete. The charcoal was allowed to cool for a week, then the kiln carefully opened on a calm day. Spontaneous fires during the opening could quickly destroy the contents of the kiln. Each kiln held over 50 cords and would produce an average of 30 bushels of charcoal per cord, enough to smelt one ton of silver ore. The Carbonari received very modest payments for their labors, with most of the profits pocketed by the teamsters and middlemen who delivered the charcoal to the mills.
 
Erected by U.S. Department of the Interior- Bureau of Land Management.
 
Location. 37° 48.783′ N, 114° 10.245′ W. Marker is near Panaca, Nevada, in Lincoln County. Touch for map. Barely east of Panaca Summit, head north on Panaca Kilns Road (Unmarked dirt road). These kilns are several miles back through the forest. This trip is not for the Prius, or for those who don't like to leave the beaten path. Marker is in this post office area: Panaca NV 89042, United States of America.
 
Also see . . .  Panaca Summit Kilns, Lincoln County. A first person account of a trip to the kilns. (Submitted on October 11, 2015.) 
 
Categories. Industry & CommerceNatural Resources
 
Panaca Summit Charcoal Kilns image. Click for full size.
By Trev Meed, April 12, 2009
3. Panaca Summit Charcoal Kilns
Panaca Summit Road Sign image. Click for full size.
By Trev Meed, April 12, 2009
4. Panaca Summit Road Sign
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on October 8, 2015, by Trev Meed of Round Mountain, Nevada. This page has been viewed 163 times since then and 48 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on October 8, 2015, by Trev Meed of Round Mountain, Nevada.   2. submitted on October 11, 2015, by Trev Meed of Round Mountain, Nevada.   3, 4. submitted on October 9, 2015, by Trev Meed of Round Mountain, Nevada. • Syd Whittle was the editor who published this page.
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