Canyon Creek Kilns, Montana

Located near Glendale, Montana, and accessible from Melrose.

Noah Armstrong located his smelter at Glendale. Since there was no coal supply in the area, he established these beehive style kilns at Canyon Creek to produce charcoal for fuel.

The information provided on the sign:

“These beehive-shaped brick ovens or “kilns made charcoal from 1881 to 1900. The charcoal fired 3 smelter furnaces at Glendale, 5 miles east of here. Each kiln held 35 cords of precisely stacked wood, cut in the mountains high above you. In 1895 alone the kilns needed about 3 square miles of trees.

The four men loading or “charging” a kiln used the ground-level “charging door” until they couldn’t reach the top of the stack. Then they finished the job using the upper door at the rear. The wood was then burned slowly for two weeks.

At that point, the kilns were opened and cooled and usually yielded 1,750 bushels of charcoal — enough to fire a single smelter for 43 hours. By 1901, the silver and gold produced from the Hecla Mining district totaled $22,000,000.”

Kilns weren’t originally painted. The Forest Service has restored a few and whitewashed them for protection from the weather. The little holes around the base were plugged with a brick, or opened to precisely control the the fire inside. The operators carefully watched the smoke so the could tell what the environment was internally. It was an efficient way to produce charcoal.


© Bill Carroll 2017