In 1876 the mining district of Ward was the largest town in White Pine County. The Ward ores required the high burning temperature of charcoal for milling, prompting the construction of the charcoal ovens in the mid 1870s. Filling one oven required cutting down all the trees from five or six acres of land. By 1878, the hills surrounding Eureka were totally denuded of trees. Each oven could burn 35 cords of wood in one firing, producing more than a thousand bushels of charcoal. Vents on the bottom of the kiln allowed for fine adjustment of temperature. The entire process of loading, burning, and unloading took thirteen days.
These hills were the battlegrounds for the Charcoal Burner’s War of 1879, when Italian and Swiss immigrants fought wealthy mill owners over wages and work conditions. Ultimately the Nevada Militia was activated and five immigrants were killed in a skirmish with the deputies. The ovens were probably used until 1879. Afterwards, they sheltered stockmen and prospectors during foul weather, and had a reputation as a hideout for stagecoach bandits.
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