Redstone Coke Ovens
Redstone Coke Ovens Update
Pitkin County Engineering will soon be unveiling an all new website devoted entirely to the Coke Ovens Phase II Project. Here you will find information about the project, our schedule, photographs, contact information, and information for residents of Redstone, contractors, and visitors. Please check back soon for the website link.
The town of Redstone originally existed because of the historic coke ovens. Founded at the turn of the 20th century, Redstone was the vision and venture of 1 man: The “Fuel King of the West,” John Cleveland Osgood. Redstone a company town, constructed solely to house the men who worked the ovens and their families. After decades of not being used, these historic coke ovens have deteriorated due to weather, erosion, vandalism, and plant growth. To prevent further degradation, Pitkin County, teamed with JVA Incorporated, has designed and set in motion a Restoration and Stabilization Project of these historic landmarks.
Beehive Coke Ovens Picture by Wander the West
Phase I Construction
In order to prevent further degradation of the ovens, masons with expertise in historic preservation stabilized the ovens using masonry elements salvaged on site or from other sites. Where historic masonry elements are missing and cannot be obtained readily, reconstruction of those elements to match the historic elements was performed. Most of the brick ovens you see today are stabilized with a few left untouched. The ovens with the grey concrete masonry walls in front of them were not stabilized as they were modified drastically in the 1950’s and are not part of the historic district. Ultimately, 50 ovens were stabilized, and 4 were completely restored.
The stabilization effort involved removing all vegetation from in and around the ovens, rebuilding a portion of the stone retaining wall, and reconstructing unstable portions of the ovens using salvaged bricks and recreated elements matching historic elements. Joints and cracks were pointed with mortar. Grading and erosion control was installed to stabilize soils and direct water away from the ovens.
Four of the ovens were restored to their appearance when they were in use. This effort required stabilizing the ovens; reconstructing the tunnel at the front of the ovens; and reconstructing the stone retaining wall to its original full height. In all cases, the reconstruction used intact elements found on site or reconstructed elements based on historic photographs to ensure a historically accurate reconstruction in appearance, materials and workmanship. The restored ovens will help the visiting public understand what the ovens originally looked like and how they were operated.
The project was funded through community support and federal grants:
- Transportation Enhancement
- American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
- National Scenic Byways
A special thanks goes out to the community of Redstone and all of the volunteers who participated in this preservation effort.