Basalt kiln gets protective cover
BASALT, Colorado ” One of Basalt’s historic kilns from the 1880s received protection from the elements last week to prevent its possible demise.
A crew from the Basalt public works department on Thursday erected a teepee-like tent around the beehive-shaped kiln so that no more snow will pile up on it this winter. The tent is temporary. A special committee hopes to land a grant this year to stabilize and rehabilitate what’s known as kiln number 6.
Seven of the enormous kilns line one entrance to Basalt’s popular Arbaney Park. They were constructed in 1882 to produce charcoal for the mining smelters in Aspen, and other uses. They stopped producing in 1887 and have been ravaged over the decades by weather, vandals and neglect.
Two of the kilns collapsed, one is partially collapsed and four are standing. Of those four, kiln number 6 is threatened, according to an engineering consulting firm. A committee of Basalt residents and town government officials are acting to prevent that kiln from falling. Their first step was to get $5,500 from the Town Council to purchase a temporary structure to protect old number 6.
The tarp was custom-built in Florida and shipped to Basalt. It arrived a few days after the heavy snow started falling in December, according to Brian McNellis, a planner for the town of Basalt and a member of the kilns committee. The public works crew had to wait for a few weeks for suitable weather to erect the teepee.
Public works director Bentley Henderson and department workers Lisa DiNardo, Mike Nass and Brandon Wallace started wrestling the protective cover over the kiln on Wednesday and completed the job Thursday with additional equipment. They erected a metal frame around the brick kiln, which is roughly 20 feet high and 20 feet in diameter at its base. Kiln number 6 is unique because river rock was used for its base, then it is topped with brick.
The public works crew fitted a heavy tarp over the top half of the frame to create a teepee-like cover. Large square panels of tarp will be put on to complete the protective, octagonal base.
The kiln committee plans to apply this spring for a grant from the Colorado State Historical Society for restoration work, McNellis said. Anyone interested in learning more about the project can reach McNellis at Basalt Town Hall, 927-4701.