The concrete structures located at Alagator Hill in the Sleeping Bear Dunes were built in the 1950’s by lumberman Pierce Stocking as kilns to make charcoal. The sawmill he set up near this spot produced considerable waste that was converted to charcoal in the kilns and was packed in bags for shipment to stores in much of Michigan and sold to campers and picnickers.
The kilns are concrete ovens in which limbs, slabs and other sawmill wast were stacked as tightly as possible. The open front was closed with concrete blocks and the wood set on fire just before the last blocks went in. controlling the air intake was tricky, to much air and the wood was consumed, too little air, and the fire went out. If successful, the fire burned slowly for several days. Once it was out, the charcoal was removed an spread to cool, then moved to the bagging shack.
Alligator Hill was the first managed forests in this part of the state. Its owner, D. H.Day protected the smaller trees to promote a future lumber harvest. When Pierce Stocking purchased the land in 1984, there was enough new growth to warrant a selective Harvest. The mill was closed and the kilns abandoned.
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