What remains of historic Canyon Creek Charcoal Kilns can be found in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest near the ghost town of Glendale, and although these long-abandoned structures are more than a century old, they’re looking quite good for their age!

These 23 kilns were used between 1881 and 1900 to reduce 11,665 acres of pine trees down to 19 million bushels of charcoal. The charcoal was used to fuel the blast furnaces at the Hecla Mining Company’s silver smelter at Glendale. Each kiln was 20 feet tall and 25 feet in diameter, and could hold between 35 and 45 cords of wood. They burned for six to eight days straight and required a keen eye to analyze the smoke color emitted from each kiln; the air holes around the perimeter were plugged during part of this process to help speed up the reduction of wood to charcoal.

The US Forest Service and other history enthusiasts have stabilized and restored three of the kilns, which have been whitewashed to help preserve the brick structures and show what they looked like over 100 years ago. Some of the kilns are beyond saving and have fallen in ruin, but the Canyon Creek Charcoal Kilns are still one of the best preserved historic sites in Montana.

David Eggebraaten travels all across Montana to document fascinating historical spots and stunningly unique places hiding within this vast state. Check out his videos of this eerily beautiful Montana ghost town and his aerial flyover of the Fort Missoula Complex, or head over to his YouTube Channel to see more of his amazing work!

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