The Ward Charcoal Ovens are remnants of the old west. There are
six of them, evenly spaced apart, 30 feet high and about 27 feet
in diameter, made of local material and cone shaped. Built in
1873, they were used to make the charcoal needed for the smelter
at the nearby mining camp of Ward. It is estimated that each of
the ovens could hold up to 35 cords of wood at a time.
It took 12 days to produce 50 bushels of high quality charcoal
from each cord of wood. It took that much to process 1 ton of
the copper ore. The miners ultimately denuded the timber from
the area for a radius of up to 35 miles. The 35 cords of wood
needed to fill these hungry ovens required 5 to 6 acres of
forest each time.
Charcoal was ultimately replaced by a more efficient coke which
was made from coal and shipped in from the east.
Abandoned long ago, the ovens are a testiment to change. The
trees have grown back. There is camping, hunting and picnicking
in the area. These strange looking monuments to the past are all
that is left of a once busy and thriving area.
South of Ely about 6 miles on US 93 to Cave Valley Road. On Cave
Valley Road, a graded dirt and gravel road that definitely is
accessible to the average passenger car, you must drive SW for
about 11 miles. Just before you get there, a cut off to camping
areas can be taken. This will require that you hike about a
third of a mile. The next cutoff is the one you want to take to
get there directly.
Since this is technically Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historical
Park, there is also an entrance fee. Currently the fee per
vehicle is $4.00.