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Birch Creek Charcoal Kilns

By coolsen - Posted on 12 January 2018

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  • Site # 20
  • GPS Coordinates: N44.41041 W113.17978
  • Elevation: 7340 feet
  • Benchmark Page: 56
  • Benchmark Coordinates: F3 Idaho
  • Ride Difficulty: 2


The Birch Creek Charcoal Kilns are a group of beehive-shaped clay charcoal kilns near Leadore, Idaho, built in 1886. They were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.  The kilns were built in 1886 to produce charcoal to fuel the smelter at Nicholia, which smelted lead and silver ore from the Viola Mine located about 10 miles east of the kilns.  The Viola ore deposit was discovered in 1881 and was mined until 1888, when the ore was depleted and the price of lead had fallen.  The Nicholia smelter, located about 3 miles west of the mines, had two blast furnaces, each with a daily capacity of 40 short tons (36 t) of ore.  A Butte, Montana, man named Warren King built 16 kilns from brick made from local clay, possibly obtained from Jump Creek on the East side of the Birch Creek Valley.  The beehive-shaped kilns are each about 20 feet tall and 20 feet in diameter.  When operating, each kiln used 30 to 40 cords of Douglas fir wood per load, producing about 1,500 to 2,000 bushels of charcoal over a two-day burn.  The kiln operation lasted for less than three years, employing 150 to 200 people at its peak, and had a monthly output estimated at 44,000 to 50,000 bushels of charcoal.  The ruins of four kilns survive today.  They are located on the Caribou-Targhee National Forest, which operates the location as a public interpretive site.  Nicholia is now a ghost town, with only a few ruins remaining.   There are no surviving remains of the town of Woodland, a short distance south of the kilns, where the kiln workers lived.  In 1987, a volunteer-assisted stabilization effort prevented one of the kilns from collapsing.  The Forest Service undertook a restoration of the kilns in 2000.

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Check-Ins for this Challenge Point

 silver spurs at the charcoal kilns with Gaylon Holdaway

Posted by silverspurs on 2018-07-16 22:34

Photo taken August 10.  Been here a few times before on group and solo rides.  This has been an IAMC challenge site in the past.

Posted by coolsen on 2018-08-21 11:39

 I rode to these in 2011 in the mud! Much drier this time

Posted by shutterman on 2018-08-22 19:50

 Hot day riding.

Posted by AGHill on 2018-11-27 12:42