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Firing up historic interest; community invited to check out Barn Bluff kiln

The 1882 Carlson Lime Kiln, which was named to the National Register in 1976, has 35-foot-high walls and three arched openings. The center arch measure about 20 by 20 feet, and the smaller openings were fire boxes for the kiln. Photo courtesy of the Red Wing Heritage Preservation Commission1 / 3
Environmental Associates Inc. is nearing completion of work to repair and preserve the G.A. Carlson Lime Kiln on the east end of Barn Bluff. A public presentation on the project is planned 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 14, 2017, at the Jim Isensee Event Center. Photo courtesy of Red Wing Heritage Preservation Commission2 / 3
The Carlson Lime Kiln, one of the last remnants of the once-thriving limestone industry in Red Wing, had a “tunnel kiln” that was serviced by a railroad spur at the base of Barn Bluff. Photo courtesy of the Red Wing Heritage Preservation Commission3 / 3

Repairs to preserve the G.A. Carlson Lime Kiln on the east side of Barn Bluff are nearly completed, and the public is invited to check out the progress.

The Red Wing Heritage Preservation Commission is sponsoring a program on the lime kiln project Wednesday evening at the Red Wing Conservation Club's Jim Isensee Event Center. Formerly known as the Izaak Walton League clubhouse, the facility is a short walk from the kiln.

The free event, which celebrates Heritage Preservation Month, will begin with a social hour at 5:30 p.m. Appetizers and cold beverages will be provided.

At 6 p.m. the architect for the project, Angela Wolf Scott of MacDonald & Mack, and contractor Ray Stenglein of Environmental Associates Inc. of Willmar, Minn., will speak.

They will provide background on the kiln's history and describe the project, including what has been completed and what they discovered in the process, according to city Planning Manager Steve Kohn, who is staff liaison to the Heritage Preservation Commission.

A city representative will talk about the city's intent to implement a master plan, which will include a better trail and access to the site plus new and improved interpretive materials about the kiln and the stone industry that once thrived on the bluff.

Afterward, people are invited to join them in the short walk to the kiln site to see the project first-hand and ask questions.

The budget to stabilize and preserve the structure is about $400,000 including contingency funds. The city received a Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage Grant of $258,600 toward the total cost.

The 1882 Carlson Lime Kiln, which was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976, is a large masonry structure with 35-foot tall walls on the north, east and west. More than 60 feet wide at the base, it has two large, tower-like chimneys connected by a barrel-vaulted space.

Carlson had two kilns and a quarry on the east end of Barn Bluff. The limestone was quarried then heated in kilns to create quicklime. When mixed with water into a slurry then allowed to dry, it solidifies into what was a popular building material of the era.

The quarry and lime industry played a significant role in the history of Barn Bluff. From 1870 to 1908, some 16 companies operated quarries and kilns on Barn Bluff and Sorin's Bluff.

The citizens got tired of the tremors from constant blasting and the ongoing defacing of Barn Bluff. Operations ceased in 1908, and in 1910 the bluff was acquired and donated to the city by a coalition of businessmen.