Ward Charcoal Ovens
"Well, I can't pick the time of day when I fall under the weather. This cold has been haunting me for three days now, and it would hit days before I am about to finish the county. *sigh* Sick or not, here comes my self-portrait. Excuse the gloves ..." -- Journal Entry, March 2008
Original Date Visited: 3/15/08
Notes: It's not often that hunters are required to travel some dirt to bag an historic marker so this one is sure to kick up some fun as well a few roostertails. Head south out of Ely and look for a brown sign marking the way to the "Ward Charcoal Ovens State Park." This eleven-mile graded road allows the average sedan (and RVs/trailers) to coast a comfortable 40mph. Once there avoid the road to the "Campgrounds" and instead head for the south unit and turn right at the road leading to the "Ovens." If you plan to stay this park furnishes some of the loveliest campgrounds in Nevada with facilities on the rear side of the unit for a nomimal fee. Compared to nearby Cave Lake which can be completely booked full (and price-gouged!) during the summer months, you will almost always find seclusion at the Ward Ovens campgrounds. Have a great trip!
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 five or six 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 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.
Kudos to another county well done! (Mittens and all. Yes it was as cold as it looks in the picture!
Related Links & Markers:
 -- Ward Mining District Ward Charcoal Ovens S.H.P. (Nevada State Parks)
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