Nevada December 24, 2018
The Real Story Behind These Mysterious Hives In Nevada Will Fascinate You
You never truly know what you’ll stumble across when exploring the remote deserts of Nevada’s backcountry. If you’ve ever found yourself roughly 20 miles south from the town of Ely, you might have noticed some pretty strange structures sitting in the middle of nowhere. These structures may resemble giant hives but they are definitely not the remains of humongous honey bees. In fact, they are charcoal ovens and there’s a pretty incredible story about how they got here.
Located near Ely, Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Park is home to a fascinating sight. At first, these beehive structures may seem out of place, but it all begins to make sense once you learn exactly why they're there.
The 700-acre park was designated in 1994 in order to preserve these magnificent structures, also known as charcoal ovens. The ovens played a significant role in the mining industry and remain a living link to our state's history.
The story of the ovens began in 1872 when two brothers traveled from Pioche to Toano in Elko County and accidentally stumbled upon some silver ore. This triggered the monumental mining boom that changed Nevada's history forever.
The region totally transformed after the discovery of silver. In fact, the area was seeing so much growth that the Martin and White Company of San Francisco purchased mining claims and began building smelters to process the ore.
However, in order for the smelters to work, they needed fuel—lots of it. To create quality fuel, six charcoal ovens were built along Willow Creek. Made with blocks that were chipped out of the nearby mountains, the kilns were the Ward Mining District's main method of producing charcoal for the smelters.
Their iconic beehive shape was a relatively new design back then. The odd shape of the kilns was actually more efficient and created better charcoal. In their entire lifetime, the ovens produced about 600 bushels of charcoal.
The kilns worked wonderfully, but they were short-lived. They were decommissioned just three years after their construction for a new fuel source—petroleum coke.
The ovens may not have been in commission for very long, but they were an incredibly important part of transforming the region through the mining industry. Getting a look at these 140-year-old artifacts should be a goal for every history lovin' Nevadan.
Did you know the story behind these charcoal ovens? It’s worth it for every Nevadan to see these historic remains up close. There are a plethora of treasures waiting to be uncovered in our state. Just check out our list of
6 Trails In Nevada That Lead You To Extraordinary Ancient Ruins.