Thomas J. Straka was born and raised in Wisconsin and ended up in South Carolina as a professor emeritus at Clemson University. He is a forestry professor and his interest in trees led to an interest in the charcoal iron industry that depended on wood to make fuel.
Charcoal kilns are one of the most interesting treasures of rural UP history, remnants of one of its important early industries. There are two prominent restored charcoal kilns in the UP, but how many authentic kilns still exist? Dr. Thomas Straka addresses that question in his Rural Insights debut.