Birch Creek Charcoal Kilns, ID 2024
Birch Creek Charcoal Kilns, ID 2024

Birch Creek Charcoal Kilns, ID 2024

Birch Creek Charcoal Kilns, ID 2024

Join us at Birch Creek Charcoal Kilns for a unique opportunity to connect with nature, preserve history, and make a positive impact in our community!

PROJECT PARTNER: Caribou-Targhee National Forest

SESSION DATES: July 14-19 and July 21-26



Project Site Description & History

The Birch Creek Charcoal Kilns in Idaho are historical structures located in the Leadore area, representing a significant period in the state’s mining history. Built in the late 1880s, these kilns were constructed to produce charcoal to fuel the smelting operations in the nearby mining districts, particularly the Viola and Nicholia districts. The charcoal produced at Birch Creek was essential for the smelting process, which extracted precious metals like lead and silver from ore. This was a time when mining activities were at their peak in Idaho, contributing significantly to the economic development and settlement of the region.

Constructed by the Montana Smelting Company, the Birch Creek Charcoal Kilns are an example of the industrial ingenuity of the time. There are originally over sixteen kilns, built from local stone and designed in a beehive shape, which was typical for kilns of that period due to their efficiency in producing high-quality charcoal.

The kilns operated extensively for several years, supporting the smelting operations that were crucial to the mining industry. Workers at the kilns would cut and burn wood from the nearby forests, turning it into charcoal through a slow pyrolysis process, which involves heating the wood at a low oxygen level to produce charcoal.

Today, the Birch Creek Charcoal Kilins stand as a monument to the region’s mining and industrial past. Although many of the original kilns have not survived, a few have been restored and are maintained as historical sites. These remaining kilns offer a window into the late 19th and early 20th centuries’ mining era, showcasing the industrial processes and the economic activities that shaped the development of Idaho.

The site attracts historians, tourists, and students, serving as an educational and cultural resource that highlights the importance of mining and industry in the development of the American West. HistoriCorps invites you to join us for one of our most unique volunteer opportunities of the season in the great state of Idaho as we make camp in the backdrop of the stunning Lemhi Mountains!

Location and Logistics

SESSION DATES: July 14-19 and July 21-26

Please plan to arrive at the campsite no earlier than 5pm and no later than 7pm on the first day of your session.

LOCATION: Located roughly 45 minutes southeast of Leadore, ID.



Tents, truck campers, campervans, trailers, and a few RVs 25′ feet and under are welcome. Hookups and showers will not be available. Dogs are welcome but must be leashed.

WEATHER:  Anticipate highs in the 70s and lows in the 40s. Weather conditions may be rainy, cloudy, or sunny. Volunteers are responsible for checking weather conditions before their session begins, and packing appropriately.

ABOUT VOLUNTEERING: HistoriCorps projects are free for volunteers! HistoriCorps will provide all meals, tools, training, equipment, and a campsite. Volunteers are responsible for their own transportation to the campsite, sleeping equipment, work gloves, clothes and boots, and other personal gear.

Scope of Work


HistoriCorps is committed to educating and training volunteers in preservation skills, with an overarching mission of inspiring a preservation ethic in all those involved. Learning and working alongside expert HistoriCorps field staff, volunteers and applying the traditional skills necessary to restore the Birch Creek Charcoal Kilns:

  • Masonry brick repair & repointing

Please note: Tasks vary by day and by week, depending on a variety of factors including: weather, project priorities, previous groups’ work, and more. Though it is likely you will get to learn and practice most or all of the above tasks, it is not guaranteed. The higher percentage of the scope a particular task is, the more likely you will get to practice it.

Sign Up!

We’re thrilled this project has inspired you to volunteer!


Visit our Job Calendar to see spaces are available!

*All registrations submitted to projects at capacity will be automatically added to our waitlist.*

CANCELLATIONS effect our ability to complete projects. Please register only if you are certain about your ability to participate.

You will know your registration was successful when you receive a confirmation email. Contact for assistance.

HistoriCorps does not charge for its volunteering projects. HistoriCorps relies on donations to continue engaging volunteers to save significant historical sites across America for generations to come. Your donation of any amount will make an incredible difference! Increase your impact – make a generous gift today.

Volunteer Logistics, Policies, and Advice

We’re so glad you’re interested in joining this project! If you’re new to our community, review the Volunteer FAQ first! Please note the following logistics and policies: 

  • Volunteering with HistoriCorps is free! We will provide all meals, tools, training, equipment, and a campsite or shared indoor lodging. Dinner is not provided on the first night. 
  • Volunteers are responsible for bringing their own gear, work gloves, sturdy work clothes and boots, and appropriate sleeping equipment. Check the average temperatures before you start packing – the nights and mornings may be colder than you anticipate! Then, read this advice about how to stay warm when tent camping in colder places. 
  • Campsite accessibility varies by project. Some projects can accommodate tents only; others can accommodate small RVs. Please review the project site description above for more information, and if you’re still not sure, email for help. 
  • If this project does not offer showers, you might want to consider bringing a solar shower or research other methods to clean up after the work day. 
  • Volunteer crew sizes generally range from 4-8 volunteers, with two HistoriCorps staff that lead and train volunteers in the work. 
  • Safety is one of HistoriCorps’ top priorities, and volunteers can contribute to a safe working environment by ensuring their physical fitness is adequate for the work. See above for this project’s scope of work and difficulty level. Please, call us if you are not quite sure if a project is a good fit for your skills or fitness level. We may be able to suggest a project more suitable and enjoyable for you. 
  • Hard hats, eye protection, ear protection, gloves are standard personal protection equipment (PPE) required on all projects. Hard hats must be worn at all times on the project site, unless working in a designated safe space. Field staff will train volunteers on correct use of PPE. 
  • Dogs are generally allowed to accompany their humans in project campsites (actually, we love having dogs join us around the campfire!). Dogs are not permitted on the job site for everyone's safety. HOWEVER: HistoriCorps also follows the rules and regulations of our project partner. If the project partner does not permit dogs onsite then HistoriCorps is no exception. Please ask HistoriCorps or the project partner directly if you have any questions about whether Fido is welcome.