8 eerie ghost towns
Photo by Talbot Hauffe, courtesy of National Scenic Byways Online (www.byways.org)
Born: Mormon pioneers established Piedmont around 1867 to supply wooden ties for the Union Pacific Railroad. The town grew as a base for construction of a steep, winding railroad bed and the laying of tracks, and then as a station where steam locomotives could refuel and take on water. About 40 kilns were built to provide charcoal fuel for the steam trains. The town grew to about 20 houses.
Died: In 1901, the Union Pacific dug a railroad tunnel through Aspen Ridge, several miles from Piedmont. The rerouted tracks allowed the railroad to increase traffic but at the expense of Piedmont, which lost its economic locomotive. Piedmont was empty by 1940.
It lives on: Of the 40 sandstone kilns that were built, three remain. They are conical and about 30 feet in diameter and 30 feet high. During railroad days, pine logs and quaking aspen filled the kilns, which rendered the wood into charcoal. Now the site is known as Piedmont Charcoal Kilns State Historic Site. Admission is free.