Ward Charcoal Ovens
These ovens were constructed during the mid 1870’s and are larger and of finer construction than most other ovens found in Nevada. They are 27 feet in diameter and 30 feet high with a capacity of about 35 cords of wood which was burned for a period of 12 days to produce about 50 bushels of good solid charcoal per cord.
The charcoal was used in the smelters at nearby Ward, about 30 to 50 bushels being required to reduce one ton of ore.
Each filling of one of these ovens required the total tree crop from 5 or 6 acres of land. During the late 1870’s the hills and mountains around many mining camps were completely stripped of all timber for a radius of up to 35 miles.
As railroads penetrated the west charcoal was replaced by coke made from coal, and the charcoal industry faded.
“The real worth of the old charcoal ovens is their historical function in reminding present day Americans of a now-vanished industry, without which the great silver and lead bonanzas of the early west could not have been harvested.” Nell Murbarger.
This is Nevada State Historical Marker #184, located at Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Park outside of Ely, Nevada. See others on this page: