The Milky Way lies over a historic charcoal kiln near the mining town of Wicks, Montana. The kiln was constructed in ~1882 to support the nearby silver mine which is still in production today. Around the turn of the 19th century, kilns, like this one, were often used to make charcoal. Charcoal was the fuel of choice for smelting gold, silver and copper ore. Charcoal is made by burning firewood – the remaining “coals” or charcoal is gathered and later burned again with a mixture of precious metal ore, charcoal, and flux, which is usually lime, dolomite, or iron ore. Together these ingredients are placed in a blast furnace. These beehive-shaped structures dot the western landscape, although they are becoming increasingly rare. The craftsmanship in kiln construction is remarkable and I have always found them fascinating. In combination with the Milky Way, I think they make for a unique arrangement!
Author: Kevin League