Grizzly Gulch Lime Kilns

Lime manufacture was an essential industry for building in brick and stone in the nineteenth century. The Grizzly Gulch outcrops and the kilns below them supplied the entire region with lime of the highest quality. Joseph O’Neill built the first of these kilns in the late 1860s. Hewn timbers, hand-forged metal braces, and finely laid fire brick shipped from the East illustrate the kilns’ sturdy construction.  Workers blasted or quarried the limestone out of the hills behind, conveyed the rocks on handcars to the kilns or tumbled them down the embankment, and dumped them into the tops of the chimneys. Pine fires in the furnace beneath burned constantly. After several days, workers shoveled the powdered lime into the cooling shed adjacent the kiln and teamsters hauled it to the building site. Each kiln could produce some twenty tons of lime every eight hours. Irish-born James McKelvey later leased and then owned the kilns, supplying the mortar for the construction of the State Capitol. Lack of railroad access eventually forced closure circa 1910 although one kiln operated again briefly in the 1930s.

Images

Grizzly Gulch (Kiln A)

Grizzly Gulch (Kiln A)

Still image capture of Grizzly Gulch Kiln A, Helena West Main Street Historic District, Helena, Montana, facing west. Image information drawn from print verso. b&w print. | Source: Official records of the Montana State Historic Preservation Office, Helena, Montana | Creator: Jon Axline View File Details Page

Grizzly Gulch (Kiln A)

Grizzly Gulch (Kiln A)

Still image capture of Grizzly Gulch Kiln A, Helena West Main Street Historic District, Helena, Montana, facing east. Image information drawn from print verso. b&w print. | Source: Official records of the Montana State Historic Preservation Office, Helena, Montana | Creator: Jon Axline View File Details Page

Grizzly Gulch (Kiln B)

Grizzly Gulch (Kiln B)

Still image capture of Grizzly Gulch Kiln B, Helena West Main Street Historic District, Helena, Montana, facing northeast. Image information drawn from print verso. b&w print. | Source: Official records of the Montana State Historic Preservation Office, Helena, Montana | Creator: Jon Axline View File Details Page

Grizzly Gulch (Kiln C)

Grizzly Gulch (Kiln C)

Still image capture of Grizzly Gulch Kiln C, Helena West Main Street Historic District, Helena, Montana, facing northwest. Image information drawn from print verso. b&w print. | Source: Official records of the Montana State Historic Preservation Office, Helena, Montana | Creator: Jon Axline View File Details Page

Grizzly Gulch (Kiln C)

Grizzly Gulch (Kiln C)

Still image capture of Grizzly Gulch Kiln C, Helena West Main Street Historic District, Helena, Montana, facing northeast. Image information drawn from print verso. b&w print. | Source: Official records of the Montana State Historic Preservation Office, Helena, Montana | Creator: Jon Axline View File Details Page

Grizzly Gulch (Kiln D)

Grizzly Gulch (Kiln D)

Still image capture of Grizzly Gulch Kiln D, Helena West Main Street Historic District, Helena, Montana, facing northwest. Image information drawn from print verso. b&w print. | Source: Official records of the Montana State Historic Preservation Office, Helena, Montana | Creator: Jon Axline View File Details Page

Grizzly Gulch (Kiln E)

Grizzly Gulch (Kiln E)

Still image capture of Grizzly Gulch Kiln E, Helena West Main Street Historic District, Helena, Montana, facing North. Image information drawn from print verso. b&w print. | Source: Official records of the Montana State Historic Preservation Office, Helena, Montana | Creator: Jon Axline View File Details Page

Grizzly Gulch (Quarry B)

Grizzly Gulch (Quarry B)

Still image capture of Grizzly Gulch Quarry B, Helena West Main Street Historic District, Helena, Montana, facing southwest. Image information drawn from print verso. b&w print. | Source: Official records of the Montana State Historic Preservation Office, Helena, Montana | Creator: Jon Axline View File Details Page

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public

Street Address:

Grizzly Gulch, Helena, Montana [map]

Cite this Page:

The Montana National Register Sign Program, “Grizzly Gulch Lime Kilns ,” Explore Big – Montana's Historic Places, accessed July 23, 2017, http://explorebig.org/items/show/790.

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