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Communal Oven Ruins

Near the Kelleys Island State Park campground are the ruins of a communal oven. The communal oven follows the traditional "beehive" pattern used since the Middle Ages in Europe and later in North America. A beehive oven is a dome-shaped brick structure that looks a bit like an insect's nest, hence the name "beehive." 

While the dome roof has since collapsed, in the past, the dome shape would have trapped heat in the oven, so food cooks evenly. Workers heated the oven by making a fire inside it and keeping that fire burning long enough to heat all the bricks. Only then was the oven ready to use. Ovens were kept outside of the home because of the fire risk from the burning wood. 

This unique feature represents a period when diverse groups of immigrants from eastern and middle European countries lived and worked in the nearby north quarry community. Among the nationalities working on the island at that time were Irish, Poles, Slavs, Macedonians, Hungarians, Bulgarians, Italians, and Portuguese. 

The oven's exact date of construction is unknown, but it was likely built around 1875 when Calkins and Co. developed the north quarry area. It has undergone at least one restoration in the 1940s. 

Privately operated ferries offer frequent daily service for cars, RVs, bicyclists and pedestrians from the mainland at Marblehead and Sandusky. Golf carts and bicycles are available for rent from private vendors. The Lake Erie Shores and Island Welcome Center is an excellent source for travel options and ideas, go to the Lake Erie Shores & Islands website or call (800) 255-3743. 

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