Larry & Lee Ann's Journey travel blog

This was our view this morning as we made our way to...

View off to our left...

We've arrived only to find out the tour is full, bummer...

But we made several stops along the hwy as we made our...

Like this guy...

And Too Tall Tony!! Who thinks of this stuff????

And Miss Barb Wire reminded us of our friend Barb of course!

And there was a matching Rob Wire as well...

Here they are hanging together in all their glory...

We stopped to check out a rancher's exhibit, the figures at the...

Next stop, Major's Place...

An interesting watering hole to be sure...

The guys had one to celebrate Dick's birthday...

There are dollar bills stapled everywhere, even among the antler lighting...

So much to see...

There were two paintings hanging, signed by Sally Evans, 1981 & 1984...We...

Wow, did she capture the likeness of Clint & the Duke well!

A cool swing on the front porch...

A Basque Hotel & Condo is on the property, as well as...

And these relics as well...I think my favorite shot of the day!

Next stop, Ward Charcoal Ovens...

They are pretty cool...

Six remain today, the nicest oven specimens in Nevada...

Our last stop was the Trading Post...

Wow, do they have stuff!

Inside and out!

Even a cemetery...

A couple of antelope watched us from a distance...

We arrived home in time to chat a bit before dinner...

And pie to celebrate Dick's b-day....a nice end to a great day!


We picked Dick & Lou up at 11am and headed out to beautiful skies and a pleasant 60 degrees. Mom offered to lend us her car for the day which made for a nice smooth ride. We thought we arrived at our destination, Lehman Caves, in plenty of time for the 1pm tour but were disappointed to learn that it was already sold out. There was space for the 3pm tour but were expected for dinner by 5:30 and it would have been cutting it too close. So we chose to purchase tickets for tomorrow at 1pm instead and adjusted our schedule accordingly. We made our way back to Hwy 50 and made the obligatory stop at Major's Place. An interesting little bar with wonderfully unique decor. We spent 45 minutes or so just checking things out before moving on.

We'd planned to see the Ward Charcoal Ovens on Thursday. Instead we headed back to the Ovens which are today a state park located about 10 miles outside of Ely.

Operational from 1875 through 1879, the ovens were used during the silver boom years of the Ward Mines. Silver ore was discovered in 1872 when freighters were looking for oxen that were grazing in the Willow Creek Basin area near Ely. The beehive shaped ovens replaced the old pit system of producing charcoal because the ovens were more efficient way to reduce Pinyon Pine and Juniper to charcoal. The charcoal ovens were used to heat up the silver ore.

The ovens prepared charcoal from locally-harvested timber for use in the smelters at Ward, using 30 to 60 bushels of charcoal per ton of ore, for 16,000 bushels a day. Charcoal burns twice as hot as wood and, because it is lighter than wood, was much more economical to transport to the smelters. Nevada's mining economy succeeded in part due to this inexpensive source of fuel.

Today, six large ovens remain in excellent repair, 30 feet high, 27 feet in diameter, with walls 2 feet thick at the base. The ovens were built in 1876 by itinerant Italian masons who specialized in the ovens, who were known as Carbonari.

The Carbonari were not always depicted as heroic workers however. In the 1860s, silver production expanded into central Nevada, first near Austin, then to Eureka—the "Pittsburgh of Nevada"—in the 1870s with the new Stetefeldt furnace. Rich Comstock ores required no smelting, but central Nevada ores needed processing, and smelters required fuel in the form of piñon pine and juniper cut from local hillsides. Even when Rocky Mountain coal became available at Virginia City, it cost as much as fuelwood. Thus, for over thirty years charcoal production had a severe impact on the region's scarce forest resources. The mills used several million bushels of charcoal annually. By 1871, the hills surrounding Eureka were totally denuded of trees for a radius of ten miles, by 1874, the radius was twenty miles, and by 1878, it was fifty miles. The same held for other mining centers around the state. Early observers blamed the Carbonari for the resulting devastation.

In downtown Ely, Chris Kreider has painted a mural entitled 'Ward Charcoal Ovens'. At the painting's center are the Carbonari, Italian and Swiss immigrants, all experts in charcoal production, who cut the wood, built the kilns, carefully fired them to produce charcoal, and then shipped the finished product to the smelters. In 1880, Carbonari accounted for nearly twelve percent of the population in Eureka County, the center of charcoal production.

When the ovens were finally phased out due to depleted ore they had another use, sheltering stockmen and prospectors during foul weather. They also had a reputation as a hideout for stagecoach bandits. Interesting!

On our way back down the dirt road to Hwy 50 we made a brief but interesting stop at the Willow Creek Trading Post. Oh my, what a bunch of 'stuff' they have here! The guys had a ball.

We arrived back home just in time to enjoy a wonderful pork roast dinner followed by pecan pie and ice cream to celebrate Dick's birthday. Yep, he made it one more year! We bowled a few games of Wii bowling before delivering them back to their rig. A long, full day but we sure had a great time. Time to hit the sack, we've got another planned for tomorrow. Good night...



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