Dunlap Coke Ovens
The Dunlap coke ovens located in Dunlap, Tennessee are the remnants of a coke production facility. Built in the early 1900s, the facility consists of five batteries of 268 beehive ovens, which operated under various companies until the early 1920s. The ovens are now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and are maintained by the Sequatchie Valley Historical Society as part of Dunlap Coke Ovens Park.
Backstory and Context
In 1899, a coal mine was opened on Fredonia Mountain. For the next several years, the mining operations grew into an industrial complex that contributed greatly to the thriving economy and evolving social structure of this small town in Tennessee. Found at the base of the mountain was a series of “beehive” ovens. They were originally designed to turn coal into coke. In 1902, the first 24 ovens as well as a company store were built. By 1906, 144 ovens and a steam-powered coal washer were built. A new railroad in 1916 up Little Brush Creek created the demand for more coke production. Soon after 100 more beehive coke ovens were built.Sadly these last constructed ovens were not used much as the company had to file bankruptcy in the mid-1920s. Falling coal prices and the onset of the Depression led to the bankruptcy. A total of 268 stone ovens had been built.
The coke ovens had laid dormant for more than 50 years. They were exposed to the dangers of natures, used as garbage dumps, and even was being dismantled by thieves, Local citizens in the 1980s formed a historical group and began efforts to clear away the debris. Today excavation work continues to uncover more of the ovens. The park is maintained by the Coke Ovens Museum Association and The Sequatchie Valley Historical Association volunteers.
. Coke Ovens. Accessed October 10th 2019. http://cokeovens.com/history/.