Sky-12 - Nyle Leatham story about Kilns
Sunday, November 27, 1983 The Arizona Nyle Leatham Special for The Republic A low-flying low-flying low-flying helicopter provides a good view for along the Gila River. The kilns are all that remain photographing the 100-year-old 100-year-old 100-year-old 100-year-old 100-year-old charcoal kilns of the mining town of Butte. t Mysterious domes once served as kilns for mining company By Nyle Leatham Special for The Republic They look like five giant beehives in a row, each about 35 feet high and 25 feet in diameter, and they are among the most fascinating camera subjects in all of back-country back-country back-country Arizona. However, do not make plans for the tough four-wheel-drive four-wheel-drive four-wheel-drive four-wheel-drive four-wheel-drive trek without permission permission of the owner; the mysterious charcoal ovens have always been private property. These solid structures of native stone on the north bank of the Gila River in the desert country east of 'Florence have for many years inspired writers to wild speculation about their origin. There really is no mystery. The domed ovens are the only remaining remaining vestige of the mining town of Butte. Documented history just happened to be a little scarce in these parts. Among the tales: The ovens are prehistoric or at least of ancient Spanish origin. They are evidence of a lost civilization. They were built in 1850 by a band of Welsh miners. They were built to roast ore from a rich mine now lost. Kenneth Arline squashed the mystery business with a factual account in The Phoenix Gazette in 1975. In 1976, the late Mary Leonhard still described the ovens as being of mysterious origin in a story for The Arizona Republic, but Arizona camera she made up for it with a correct account the following year. Mining records and early newspapers newspapers reveal that the kilns were built soon after 1880 by the Pinal Consolidated Mining Co.; Thomas Cochran was superintendent. They were to burn desert mesquite into1 charcoal that would fuel a new 20-ton 20-ton 20-ton water jacket smelter. Expensive roads were scratched through the mountains so that ore could be freighted by wagon from company' mines such as the Silver Belle and the Columbia, 6 miles to the north. The town that sprang up was named Butte for the twin buttes, that straddle the Gila River just to the west. Soon there were boarding houses, a store, a river ferry, telephone service, a post office and even a Chinese restaurant. The boom did not last. Gold and silver in the ore was worth less than the cost to mine, haul and smelt it. The post office closed in 1886. Just to the west, the community of Cochran developed as a stop on the railroad to mines opening! upriver. Cochran supported a post office from 1905 to 1915, then it died, too. Growth and prosperity bypassed this area. Almost nothing remains of either town except those sturdy ovens. Over the years, prospectors have used them for shelter. They have served as barns and as living quarters. At least one person, Violet Frakes, was born in one and raised nearby. The kilns are listed in the National Register of Historic Places as the Butte-Cochran Butte-Cochran Butte-Cochran Charcoal Ovens. However, visitors must obtain obtain permission from the owner, who may be contacted through Pinal Realty Co. in Apache Junction. Junction. And if you should wish to own the kilns, they are for sale. The high angle of the photograph accompanying this article is a I giveaway as to our mode of travel. 1 1 can still see Jerry I oster s grin as he maneuvered the helicopter into position for the picture. PHOTO TIP: The tiny booklet Take Your Best Shot : A Fuji Film Guide to Sports Photography is packed with valuable information on sports and picture taking. Authored Authored by Walter Iooss Jr., whose qualifications include 150 covers for Sports Illustrated magazine, the pocket-size pocket-size pocket-size volume deals concisely with such subjects as basic camera handling, film types, stopping action action and experimental techniques for eye-catching eye-catching eye-catching pictures. For a free copy, write to Fuji Film Sports Photography Guide, P.O. Box 3737, Grand Central Station, New York, N.Y. 10163.