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Early 20th Century Ethnic Influences

Scattered across the INL and found in association with ca. 1908 canals and a ca.1900 railroad bed are small beehive shaped rock structures. At first, INL archaeologists believed they were explosive storage igloos, due to the plethora of explosives cans scattered around them.  Archaeologists later determined through the use of empirical data and deductive reasoning, that these structures were instead ovens constructed by Italian immigrant laborers in the early twentieth century and were used to make bread in isolated construction camps located in this high desert region. Each bread oven represents a transitory and temporary existence and illustrates the importance of bread to the Italian culture and workers.

Italian laborers associated with the INL ovens worked for a Utah-based construction company.  This company, known as Corey Brothers Construction, was awarded many early twentieth century railroad and canal construction contracts throughout the Intermountain and Pacific Northwest regions.  Bread ovens have been found in association with other Corey Brothers’ projects in Canada, Colorado, Nevada, Washington and Utah and display features similar to the ovens found on the INL.

Dressed basalt Italian Bread Oven

Dressed basalt Italian Bread Oven

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