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AttractionsHonest Reviews

Piedmont Charcoal Kilns – WY

Last Updated on December 30, 2023 by Themepark Freak

If you’re close to the old ghost town of Piedmont in Wyoming and have time to kill, why not drive out to see the old historic charcoal kilns?

While there’s only 3 kilns and a board explaining them, the area is beautiful and it’s a great place to picnic or wander around out in nature.

History of the Piedmont Charcoal Kilns

Piedmont was once a thriving town along the transcontinental railroad. It sprang up to provide wood and water to the railroad, but due to the abundant amount of timber, Moses Byrne decided this was the perfect spot to create charcoal. So he had 5 charcoal kilns built.

At the height of the charcoal demand, the Piedmont Charcoal Kilns would be making $0.27 cents per bushel (9kg or 20 pounds). When demand finally fell, charcoal was only getting $0.07 a bushel.

How Was Charcoal Made?

The kilns, shown above, were filled with wood. Once there was enough wood inside, a fire was lit to burn the wood just like any other fire. However, once the kiln reached a certain temperature, airflow is reduced inside the kiln.

Now that the airflow has been taken care of, the process of carbonization starts to take place. This means that the wood starts to break down until only charcoal is left.

What Happened to Piedmont?

Unfortunately, Piedmont went the way of many rail support towns. As soon as the Pacific Union Railway completed it’s tunnel through Aspen Mountain, the rail that Piedmont sat on became obsolete. By 1940 the general store had to shut down and most of the buildings had been moved or abandoned.

Visiting the Piedmont Charcoal Kilns

The kilns are in a historic site maintained by the Wyoming State Parks. They’re roughly 17.5 miles from Fort Bridger.

The road you will come in on is gravel. There are cattle herders, farmers and others who use the road as well and this may fling gravel at your car. If you do come in, be sure to stay on the road!

The site welcomes visitors from sun up to sun down. There is a bridge with a slight step up crossing a stream in order to get to the kilns. Then there is a concrete path that goes from kiln to kiln.

Depending on the time of year, there could be animals or insects in the kilns. In June 2023 we heard the drone of bees or wasps in one of the kilns!

There is also an information board and picnic tables. If you decide to have a bite to eat at the kilns, please make sure to take everything back with you!

Are the Charcoal Kilns Worth the Drive?

If you’re in the area, the drive along the dirt road to the kilns is breath taking. You could see wild life, wild flowers and blue skies with fluffy clouds like in my photos!

At some places in my rental car, the dirt/gravel road became dubious. However, at slower than posted speeds it was manageable without damage. What made me nervous was the trucks of the cattle drivers that were zipping past when I pulled over for them.

If you have to go out of your way to get to the kilns (i.e. more than an hour away), it’s probably not going to be worth the time or gas to see them.

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