First things, first – what is a “Coke Oven?” It’s not where Coca-Cola comes from. The coke ovens in Redstone were built in 1899 by Colorado Fuel and Iron to burn impurities out of coal from Colorado’s Coal Basin. This created something called “coking coal,”which could be used in steel mills to create steel, much of which was used for building railroads.
Upon the completion of the original construction, 249 ovens were heated to a sweltering 2,400 degrees Fahrenheit. This became the largest coking operation in the state of Colorado, said to account for 10% of the workers in the Centennial State during the turn of the century. The scale of coke production at this plant was huge, producing around 6 million tons of coke annually during peak performance.
Despite the scale of the operation, the coke ovens were shut down after just 10 years of use with the closure of the nearby mine that provided ample amounts of coal. In 1990, the coke ovens were recognized on the National Register of Historic Places. Today, 90 of the original 249 coke ovens remain in Redstone. They can be found on a 600-foot stretch along State Highway 133. All you have to do is pull off of the road to check them out.
On your way to the Redstone Coke Ovens, keep an eye out for waterfalls along Highway 133 during certain times of the year.
It’s also worth noting that this area is a very popular spot to go horseback riding. You can make reservations to go on a ride that leaves from nearby stables.