Designed by Swiss engineers and built by Chinese laborers in 1879, these ten kilns produced charcoal for the Modock Mine smelter, about 30 miles west of here. The kilns closed after only three years of use. Because of their brief life and remote location, these may be the best-preserved examples of charcoal kilns in the West.
Workers filled the air-tight kilns with pinyon pine logs (relatively abundant in this area) and fired them. The burning, which reduced the wood to charcoal, took 6 to 8 days. Cooling took another 5 days. Wagons then hauled the charcoal to the Modock Mine smelter, where it was used to extract silver and lead from the rich ore from Modock's mines.