Sunday, March 1, 2015

Dyer Lime Kiln

Interesting corner detail.

We have very little stonework like this in Southern Michigan.  Most of Southern Michigan is overlain with a thick layer of glacial till.  Successive periods of glacier activity stripped the Canadian Shield of its native soils and piled them on Michigan.  The glacier's extreme southern travel pushed about fifty miles south of the Mich/Indiana line (Fort Wayne, Indiana) before receding.

The only places where bedrock is visible is in river valleys where erosion has stripped away most of the overburden.  I live about three miles from the Grand River.  According to the well drilling records, there is 160 feet of clay, sand and gravel on top of the shale bedrock.  There are some places in Michigan where there is 800 feet of overburden.

Rocks can be found in our fields but they tend to be well rounded from the tumbling as they traveled many  hundreds of miles.  They also tend to be igneous and metamorphic materials unlike our sedimentary bedrocks.


The Dyer Lime Kiln was the third or fourth lime kiln built in Bellevue, Michigan.   Lime burning is rough on the facilities.  Chunks of limestone and cordwood are piled into the top.  The fire is lit through the draft hole.  Temperatures of approximately 1800 Fahrenheit (1000 C) are required and that beats the crap out of the structure.

It is a few hundred feet east of the Battlecreek River where erosion exposed the top of a limestone reef.  It is hard to imagine coral atolls lazily growing in languid tropical seas as I look out the window at our snow covered ground. 


This is one of the draft holes.  It goes all the way through to the other side so spud bars can be used to knock clinker loose from the backside and scooped out of both.


The kiln stopped operation in 1899.  It is safe to deduce that Bellevue, Michigan is not seismically active.

Another arch detail.  What you cannot see is that there is an iron tiebar through the middle of this wall from left-to-right about 15" above the top of the arch.  It has nutted ends and puts the leaves of the arch into compression.


I am pretty sure that the roof is a new addition.  It would have caught fire if it was there when the kiln was in operation.  If you look closely you can see the nut-ended tiebars.  The exposed nuts are near the corners.  Limestone flags have fallen away near the top and exposed the bars.

Slaked lime was used for whitewash, sanitation, plaster, cement and solidifying grease.  Ground limestone from the area is still used for agricultural purposes.

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