Fueling the Kilns
Lumber operations were set up and timber was harvested from the hillsides near the kilns and in nearby Vipond Park. It took 27,000 cords of wood to make 1.2 million bussels of charcoal to fuel the Glendale smelter per year.
An acre of lodgepole forest produces approximately 14 cords of wood. A cord of wood yields 45 bussells of charcoal. It took nearly three square miles of lodgepole forest per year to fuel the smelter. During its operation, the smelter procuced $20,000,000 worth of silver and lead.
How it Worked
Charcoal is made when wood is burned in a low-oxygen enviroment. In burning, gases and water are released and what remains is nearly pure carbon. Charcoal burns hotter than wood and is much lighter to transport.
It required as much as 35 cord of wood, cut in 6-8 foot lengths, to fill the kiln. When full, shavings and kindling were added, bricks were put in the bottom vents, and the door was closed and sealed with mortar. Burning occurred from the top to the bottom.
The burning process took 15 days. One day to charge the kiln, 13 days of burning, and one day to discharge. The color of the smoke helped worked understand what was happening within.
For the first 3-4 days, thick, white smoke poured from the top vents. Then, smoke turned yellow then blue, as the kiln heated up. Top vents were closed, forcing smoke out of the middle vents. 12 hours later, middle vents were closed, bottom vents opened, thereby drawing the fire to the bottom of the kiln. Workers then judged when the burn was complete, all vents were then closed and sealed.