Posted on

Wassaic Charcoal Kilns

While down giving a presentation about stone walls and foundations at the Timber Framer’s Guild Conference in Manchester New Hampshire last weekend, Mason Lord an attendee, shared some amazing photos of the Wassaic Charcoal Kilns (also referred to as furnaces or pits).  These stone structures are of the corbeled beehive type but their large size and purpose are quite unusual.  They also appear to be very well preserved.

I found the following information below here https://www.wgpfoundation.org/historic-markers/wassaic-iron/

“The Wassaic Charcoal Pits are all that remain of the Reed, Gridley & Co. Iron Works, which remained open to the mid-to-late 1920s. The charcoal made in the pits was used to fire the Gridley Blast Furnace. Constructed of stone, the pits are about 30 feet in diameter with an entrance about six-feet high. It took about three weeks of slow burning to transform wood into charcoal. This charcoal was used for fuel in the blast furnace because of its low sulfur content which is harmful to iron.

A historic photo provided by the Town of Amenia [below] showed the 150-year old uncommon charcoal furnaces at the Wassaic end of Deep Hollow Road.  Although they were no longer used, the 1898 photo showed them as they appeared.”

These structures are located just off Deep Hollow Rd in Ameia NY.  Mason Lord provided the pictures on this page with the exception of the historic image.

The entrance is 6 feet tall
Exterior view
Another interior view. The openings presumably had ways of being closed off to various degrees to get the right airflow for charcoal creation.
Another interior view
Center opening and upper "doorway"
Historic Photo from 1898, when the kilns were already many decades old. Photo from https://www.wgpfoundation.org/historic-markers/wassaic-iron/