SE Colorado,Part 2 - Coke Ovens of Cokedale, Colorado

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Real Estate Agent with Real Estate Showcase Photography
https://activerain.com/droplet/4Jnq

SE Colorado, Part 2 - Coke Ovens of Cokedale, Colorado

 

I had never seen a coke oven before, and as we came around the bend into Cokedale on Colorado County Road 12, my first thought was of Roman ruins.

 

Coke ovens in Cokedale, CO

 

Coke ovens in Cokedale, CO

Working in the coal mines was hard work. Very hard. But some were lucky enough to work above ground.

Coke ovens were used at extremely high temperatures to turn coal into 'coke', ( a very hard form of coal with the impurities removed), which is among other things, used to make steel. Coke heats at extremely high temperatures, to about 2800 degrees, and this is what gives strength and flexibility to the steel used for so many purposes. A coke oven is made up of a heating chamber, coking chamber, and a regenerative chamber. After the 16-20 hour process, brick on both ends (the doors) are removed, and the coke is pushed out into waiting railroad cars.

Imagine for a moment what it was like when the coke ovens were fired up. As the coal fills up the oven, the heat and pressure ignite, and a sulphuric smelling smoke leaves through the top of the oven. Depending on which way the wind is blowing, smoke from 350 ovens could envelope the whole town with a sulphurous stench.

 

Coke ovens in Cokedale, CO

In the 18th century in England, a coke-fired blast furnace was created that could produce 'cast iron'. This discovery was one of the factors that lead us into the Industrial Revolution.

Coke ovens in Cokedale, CO

 

Eight miles outside of Trinidad, Colorado, in Las Animas County, sits the small village of Cokedale, once a coal mining camp, where workers and their families lived in Company owned homes.  At it's peak, Cokedale had 1500 residents and produced 1500 tons of coal, and 800 tons of coke a day. Built in 1906 by the American Smelting and Refining Company, it is the most "intact coal camp" in the state, and 350 coke ovens were in use there until the camp was closed down in 1946. Unlike other mines, the miners of Cokedale enjoyed good relations with mine management and never experienced the violence of other camps.


At the time the mine closed, the Company offered the miners that wanted to stay, the ability to purchase their homes for $100 per room, and $50 for the lot.

Today, a very controversial coal-bed methane project is underway a few miles up the road in Boncarbo.

Cokedale, with it's coke ovens and surviving buildings of the period, was placed on the National Historic Register in 1984. It's a very small community, (the population in 2008 was 134) - no stores, no public restrooms.

Cokedale Colorado

 

 

SE Colorado, Part 1 - Trinidad

 

 

 

 

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Rainer
215,890
Gail MacMillan
Titusville, FL

Happy Easter Sunday Morning Debou...........what an interesting story.  Isn't it amazing what we can find in our backyards if we just take the time to go down the roads less traveled.  I feel so much more informed now, thanks to you :-)

Apr 03, 2010 11:52 PM #31
Rainmaker
251,098
Debi Boucher
Real Estate Showcase Photography - Woodland Park, CO
"Realtor Showcase" - Real Estate Photography/Virtual Tours

Happy Easter to you too, Ms. Ladybird! A big hug to you and John :) Glad you found the post interesting!

Debi

Apr 04, 2010 02:55 AM #32
Rainmaker
250,996
Michael and Cheron Lange
Solutions Real Estate - Chandler, AZ
Associate Broker, GRI

Okay Debi, now that was pretty cool and yet educational!  After 21 years of living in Denver, I had no idea about the coke ovens.  Thanks!

Cheron

Apr 07, 2010 03:30 PM #33
Rainmaker
251,098
Debi Boucher
Real Estate Showcase Photography - Woodland Park, CO
"Realtor Showcase" - Real Estate Photography/Virtual Tours

I've been here for 17 years, and I didn't know either! It sure is interesting, I'm glad I found out about it.

Debi

Apr 07, 2010 04:04 PM #34
Rainer
140,489
c m
Colorado Springs, CO

Roman ruins, Italian miners...coinky-dink?  I think not! lol Those coke ovens are a sight the first time!  I thought they were something to do with agriculture the first time I went to "Cokedale", duh... I was used to other types of Colorado mining, not coal.  I learned a lot about the Italian immigrants brought to Trinidad and the surrounding area, because they were already trained in this type of mining in the "old country".  Great post!

Apr 07, 2010 07:17 PM #35
Rainmaker
251,098
Debi Boucher
Real Estate Showcase Photography - Woodland Park, CO
"Realtor Showcase" - Real Estate Photography/Virtual Tours

Hey Cheryl - Me too - I was used to seeing gold and silver mines - not coal.  Thanks for having a look!

Debi

Apr 08, 2010 02:47 AM #36
Ambassador
1,041,745
Andrea Swiedler
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties - New Milford, CT
Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT

Debi, wow, this is fantastic! Yes, it does look like Roman ruins. And that was a ton of coal per person in the town, per day.

I have never seen a coke oven, never even knew what one was! Now I do, thanks to you.

Those are wonderful photos, as always.

Apr 17, 2010 09:28 AM #37
Rainmaker
251,098
Debi Boucher
Real Estate Showcase Photography - Woodland Park, CO
"Realtor Showcase" - Real Estate Photography/Virtual Tours

Hi Andrea - I had no clue either - so glad I had the opportunity to see and learn about them. Thanks for your visit :)

Apr 17, 2010 10:03 AM #38
Rainmaker
1,116,316
Jim Frimmer
HomeSmart Realty West - San Diego, CA
Realtor & CDPE, Mission Valley specialist

It does look like Roman ruins. I might also have guessed an old amphitheater.

Apr 21, 2010 04:07 PM #39
Rainmaker
251,098
Debi Boucher
Real Estate Showcase Photography - Woodland Park, CO
"Realtor Showcase" - Real Estate Photography/Virtual Tours

Amazing, huh? So much to see in this country of ours!

Apr 22, 2010 03:43 AM #40
Rainmaker
230,925
Emelyn Morris-Sayre
The Berkshire Group - Lakewood, CO
CRS, REALTOR, Lakewood/Denver 303-517-5116

Debi - Great post. Colorado has so many great areas and stories just waiting to be discovered. Reading your story and enjoying your photographs makes me want to do a road trip with my new camera!  Thanks so much.

Apr 23, 2010 11:12 AM #41
Rainmaker
251,098
Debi Boucher
Real Estate Showcase Photography - Woodland Park, CO
"Realtor Showcase" - Real Estate Photography/Virtual Tours

Emelyn- Head on out there! This weekend may not be a good idea tho....ton of snow!

Apr 23, 2010 11:41 AM #42
Rainmaker
782,205
Bruce Walter
Keller Williams Realty Lafayette/West Lafayette, Indiana - West Lafayette, IN

Hi Debi,

What a great set of pictures and history lesson!  With your first photo from the distance it almost looked like a Roman aqua-duct in the mountain valleys outside of Rome. (great minds think alike???)  ^_~

Where were the steel mills located out West for the coke to go to for steel production?  Surely they didn't ship all that coke to the steel mills back East did they?

Very interesting!

May 09, 2010 12:28 PM #43
Rainmaker
112,892
Randy DeLaMare
Realtypath LLC - Salt Lake City, UT
Helping friends Realize their Real Estate Dreams

Debi, Where do you find the time to do all of your wondeful posts? By title I thought originally the soda, then the white powder (I'm not sure what it is for but people seemd to think it has value), had no idea there was a coal product with the name coke.

May 25, 2010 06:45 PM #44
Rainmaker
1,047,060
Fred Carver Personal Real Estate Corporation
RE/MAX Camosun Victoria BC Real Estate - Victoria, BC
Accredited Real Estate Consultant

Hi Debi...looks like you are back on track. Neat to find these old coke ovens, great photos.

Cheers

Sep 17, 2010 04:13 PM #45
Rainmaker
335,091
Lori Churchill Cofer
Beasley Realty - Pullman, WA
Realtor - 509-330-0086 - Pullman, WA

Debi ~ I have never heard of such a thing or seen them...I too would of thought they were ruins...

Oct 01, 2010 05:54 PM #46
Anonymous
Waste Heat Recovery

I have never seen this cokeoven before.Thanks for sharing this.

May 23, 2011 11:51 PM #47
Anonymous
Kathleen Mason

My father was born here in 1912. My Grandpa Pete Miskei worked these mines at the time and others in this area, including the Broadhead Mine in the 1920's. It took him 20 years to save the money to buy the farm that he dreamed of when immigrating to the US in 1909. Thank you for the photos, they are beautiful.

Sep 08, 2011 03:02 PM #48
Anonymous
Captain Ed White

My Grandfather ( Frederick P. Bayles) built Cokedale as the mining superintendent for Colorado Furl & Iron Co. He was there from about 1906 to about 1913. My mother was born in Trinadad in 1910. They lived at 615 S Maple street Trinidad.

Coke is to coal, what charcoal is to wood, cleaner and hotter burning.

 

Rgds, Ed

 

Jan 15, 2013 04:44 AM #49
Anonymous
Stephanie P.

Great pictures & commentary.My grandfather was born in Berwind, lived for a time in Boncarbo, then Cokedale, then spent the rest of his life in Trinidad. I still have family in both Cokedale and Trinidad. I've heard many stories throughout my life about the area, the history, the mines and coke ovens and my family's work and lives there. Thank you for helping to preserve the history of these little towns that could otherwise be lost and forgotten.

Apr 14, 2018 03:23 PM #50
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Debi Boucher

"Realtor Showcase" - Real Estate Photography/Virtual Tours
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