Flumes, Kilns, Logging Industry
— Side Adventures —
Several plaques are located at this kiosk
Hilliard City and Piedmont
Early settlers began to arrive on "Hilliard Flats" in 1860 to ranch and grow crops. Long, cold winters and short growing seasons made it difficult to survive, but soon there were homes, a hotel, cafe, store and other commercial buildings. It was the center for the logging industry. Many charcoal kilns were located here.
After trains switched from coal to steam and charcoal was no longer needed, Hilliard Station was closed in 1900. The town lost its population, and the area is now used to raise sheep and cattle, with historic working ranches still dotting the landscape.
Two or three years prior to the coming of the railroad, logging operations had been established in Piedmont of furnish ties for the roadbed. In 1868, track crews began laying the tracks, and test wells for water were dug. Pure, deep-flowing water was found in Piedmont, and the town quickly became populated and was designated as a water and wood refueling station. Settlers built a store, hotel, saloons, school, church and permanent homes. After the Aspen Tunnel bypassed Piedmont, the population dropped to only 35, and the Guild Store and post office were closed in 1940. The buildings were hauled away, but foundations, charcoal kilns and the cemetery remain as evidence of Piedmont's historic past.
Flumes, Kilns, Logging Industry
Early day timber cutting in the headwater drainages of the Bear River occurred between 1870 and 1900. Cut and burned-over areas indicate that a large amount of timber was removed during this time frame. A large sawmill, established by Jesse Atkinson, used the logs for lumber. The saw logs that supplied the mill were floated from the forest down the Bear River during early spring runoff. Thirty-two charcoal kilns were constructed in the Hilliard and Piedmont areas. The charcoal manufactured from the kilns was shipped to smelters in Utah and Colorado for use by the railroad.
Railroad ties were early product of timber cutting and flumes. The decline of the charcoal industry began with the use of coke in smelter and a fall in prices. Native lumber was replaced by higher quality lumber from the Northwest. The flumes were dismantled for scrap lumber, and the former tie hack camps became historic symbols. A replica of a tie hack cabin is located at Bear River Ranger Station along the Mirror Lake Scenic Byway.
Many exciting and fun side adventures may be taken from the Mirror Lake Scenic Byway. By turning at County Road 173, you will enjoy driving past Sulphur Creek Reservoir and onto the historic Union Pacific grade. Traveling through a cut in the mountains, turn left to the ghost town of Piedmont, where you can step back in time while you explore historic charcoal kilns. The road continues to Interstate 80 and returns to Evanston.
Just past Myers Crossing, County Road 157, which is an improvement dirt road, circles through the area adjacent to the Bear River and connects with the byway near milepost 18. Other county roads meander through the Hilliard area and past may pioneer homesteads, as well as climbing hills to Altamont and Aspen Tunnels. Be an adventurer! Explore all the Mirror Lake Scenic Byway offers.