View Full Version : Wigwam Burners

06-12-2008, 01:43 AM
http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/2080/794/1600/wigwam.jpgFor For most of my life I have passed by these without a thought but now they are part of the past and slowly being taken down.

Brett Weston took abstract photographs of them in the '70's, they are a unique architecture.


06-12-2008, 10:58 AM
What ARE they? Forgive a city boy's ignorance....

06-12-2008, 11:51 AM
Burners for disposing of sawmill waste. Roughly shaped like a wig-wam. Nowadays the waste is either used for making pressboards, or pulp, or used to generate heat for dry kilns (don't know what kind of burners they use for the latter, but are presumably more efficient than the wig-wams).

06-12-2008, 04:24 PM
I had a great photo link but it doesn't appear, I'll try again. These burners are scattered though out the West from California to Canada, they were used to burn slash or scrap wood pieces as Johnny has said. They are also great sculptural shapes for photographs.

06-12-2008, 05:41 PM
There were plenty of them in the Southern US, too. The last working one that I was familiar with was in Washington, Georgia; it became famous locally when the county sheriff decided to use it to dispose of a huge amount of marijuana that had been confiscated. Rumor had it that people came from miles around to stand downwind and inhale (or not!). :)

06-12-2008, 05:54 PM
After scrap wood came to have value as a commodity ( sold to overseas firms to mix with resin, extrude into boards, and sold as chip board, particle board and Scandinavian furniture) the burners fell into disuse back in the late 1970's. They were characterized as either cylinders capped with a half-ball of mesh, or cone-shaped with the top capped with mesh. All had a conveyor belt which dumped the slash wood and sawdust into a continuously burning fire.

Many outlasted the sawmils - standing sentinel over former sawmill sites in Oregon, Washington, Idaho that no longer even had any other portion of the mill remaining (including millpond). Within the past ten years, most have be cut down to recover the iron as scrap. If you see one - make your images soon. The remainder are rapidly disappearing. Use the access door, go inside and look upwards at the image potentials...

06-13-2008, 07:22 AM
The DVD on Brettt shows him photographing in one of these wigwams. Amazing how he used any and everything as a source for abstract form.

Merg Ross
06-21-2008, 11:53 AM
I have the result of Brett's wigwam photo session to which Scott refers. It is in the form of a beautiful 11x11 print and was made possible by use of the Rollei-66. Imagine trying to shoot straight up with an 8x10; could be done, but not easily.

06-22-2008, 08:37 AM
I'm trying to picture one of these; when people state wigwam do they mean a dome structure, or more of a cone like a tipi?

06-22-2008, 09:36 AM
Imagine a badminton puck standing on its backside. There was one in my neighborhood as I was growing up. It was next to the tracks that went through town and the mill was in operation after I got out of high school. The smell of cut oak planks was a very distinctive and rank. When the scrap became worth selling they installed a blower unit to load the scrap onto rail cars and the burner fell into disuse. I had images on 35mm negs, but I'm not sure I could find them anymore.

Bob F.
06-22-2008, 10:01 AM
A quick search on Google Images will show the variations. Must admit I'd never heard of them and wondered why people would build special structures to burn wigwams until I did that...

Cheers, Bob.

06-23-2008, 05:02 AM
Thanks for the explanation. I always though the 'shuttlecock' shape was know as a tipi?