If you have ever hiked the trails on Aligator Hill in the Sleeping Bear Dunes you have seen these odd-looking concrete structures. They were built in the 1950’s by lumberman Pierce Stocking as kilns to make charcoal. The sawmill he set up in the area produced considerable waste that was converted to charcoal in the kilns. It was packed in bags and shipped to stores around Michigan.
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 were set in place. controlling the air intake was tricky, to much air and the wood was consumed by the fire, 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 and spread to cool, then moved to the bagging shack.
After the timber was depleted the kilns were abandoned. They are on my list of abandoned places to visit in Michigan HERE
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