ABANDONED MICHIGAN: The Charcoal Kilns at Sleeping Bear Dunes
These old charcoal kilns are still around, thankfully saved - so far – from being demolished. You can find these at the head of the Alligator Trail at Sleeping Bear Dunes.
The kilns were built in the 1950s by Pierce Stocking, who also ran a sawmill. The reason for the kilns was to make charcoal out of sawmill waste: sawdust, wood chips, broken slabs, etc. The charcoal was then bagged and sent to stores all through Michigan…you may have even used some of this charcoal for cookouts.
These concrete kilns successfully burned the waste slowly for a number of days before it was removed as charcoal and cooled, bagged, and shipped.
So why were these kilns abandoned? Like many lumber towns that went bellyup because of depleted timber, such was the case with the kilns…once the timber was gone, it wasn’t worth the upkeep, so the kilns were abandoned.
Next time you’re at Sleeping Bear Dunes, get photos/video of these kilns before some hotshot decides they’re an eyesore and tears ‘em down.