Burning Charcoal, N.C.

Special Collections > Keystone Slides
tiff scanned file from original glass slide
The Western counties of North Carolina are crossed by the Appalachian (p´ a-låch´ -n) Mountains. Much of the country is very rough and the land is too poor to be farmed with any profit. But the hillsides are well wooded and timber is the chief source of wealth. This region is spoken of as the "Sapphire Country." This is a charcoal oven or mound. In it wood is being made into charcoal by burning. The mound itself looks like a huge molehill. If you could have a view of the inside of this mound you would see tiers of wood set on the end, one tier on top of the other. There are usually 3 tiers so placed, making the pile about 12 feet high. The mounds are of various sizes. Some are only 10 feet in diameter, others are as much as 50 feet. The wood is stacked so the tops of the sticks lean towards the center, forming a cone. Over the wood are piled leaves, grass, and straw, and on top of these several inches of dirt are thrown so that the air is kept out. There are ventilator holes left in the clay so the fire will get enough air to burn slowly on the inside. The mound is fired from the top. It burns downwards very, very slowly in a smouldering fire. For several days the burning goes on, the black smoke oozing through the side openings. Finally the smoke dies out, and only bluish-colored hot air escapes. Then the burning is done and the earth is removed. Instead of the wood there is a pile of charcoal. This charcoal is solid, but full of holes and generally black in color. It is used largely as fuel, but much of it is made into gunpowder, some into chemicals, and some is used for crayons. It is also fed to poultry and hogs. Charcoal burning is one of the old, old occupations. Many of our fairy stories tell about the charcoal burners of Europe, ages ago. Keystone ID: 6208 Note: All titles, descriptions, and location coordinates are from the original Keystone Slide documentation as supplied by the Keystone View Company. No text has been edited or changed.
Copyright by the Keystone View Company. The original slides are housed in McConnell Library's Special Collections.