Windrose Charcoal Kilns
Charcoal Kiln Road,
Death Valley, California
In 1875 silver and lead were mined at the Modock, or Modoc, Mine. Some gold and copper were also found there. This mine was found in the Argus Range, an area with no trees or forests. A ready supply of wood is important for the smelting process, which takes the heavy mined ore, removes the impurities, and reduces it to lighter smelted ore, easier for transport. This smelting process requires a large amount of heat, and thus the need for a fuel source. Since there were no trees nearby, the mine had to find an alternative source. That alternate source was over 25 miles away in Windrose, located above Death Valley, at an elevation of 7000 feet, in the Panamint Mountain Range. There pinyon and juniper trees could be found, which were used to fuel charcoal kilns. The wood was placed into the kilns, and slowly converted into charcoal that could be utilized in the smelting process.
In 1877 The Modock Consolidated Mining Company used Chinese laborers to construct ten beehive style charcoal kilns. For the next year and a half the kilns churned out charcoal which was sent over land 25 miles west to the Modoc Mine. A small town quickly appeared around the kilns consisting of about a hundred people, along with a store, a boarding house and a blacksmith shop. The Modoc Mine closed down less than two years after the kilns were constructed.
The ten beehive kilns still stand, excellently preserved. In 1971, the kilns were restored by Navajo Native American stonemasons from Arizona. The climate is a bit cooler up in the Panamints so if you are looking to escape the heat of Death Valley this is an excellent place to visit. All but the last mile of road to the kilns is paved.
- Ghost Towns of California (2012) by Varney, Phillip, p: 183 - 184
Last Edited: 2020-09-06