“Wigwam burners” used to be a common feature in our Oregon landscape. They were used by the timber industry to burn wood waste before it was discovered that the “waste” could be turned into something profitable, and at a time before stricter air pollution standards. Phased out of use in the 1970s, they have quickly disappeared. Part of their disappearance is also probably due to the fewer lumber mills we have around; for example, here in Cottage Grove, a wigwam burner used to stand where our Safeway grocery store does now.
Earlier this summer we found ourselves in Linn County enjoying their covered bridges, so we sought out the wigwam burner in Sweet Home, located at the family owned Lester Shingle Mill on 18th Street. I love that a lot of the mill buildings and machinery are still there. (If you know the purpose of the conical-shaped item hanging to the left of the wigwam burner, please leave a comment below. My searches so far have not been fruitful.)
With permission, I was able to venture close to this wigwam and see inside.
I’ve had two people suggest that the conical-shaped item hanging to the left of the wigwam burner is for air pollution control. While Google searches brought up interesting EPA documents, I couldn’t find a definitive answer (yet). However, looking through my photos I did find this interesting image taken from the other side of the wigwam burner. It definitely looks like a devise for air control, of some sort.
For more information and photos about the Lester Shingle Mill, see the Historic American Engineering Record in the Library of Congress.
** Please note that I had permission to walk into this area to take photos. If you visit, please respect private property and no trespassing signs, unless you are given permission as well.