300-ton kiln completes its 6-day trip across south Arkansas

Officials escort a 600,000 pound kiln from El Dorado to Stephens on the third day of the kilns six day journey from Crossett to Gum Springs on Friday, May 12, 2023. More photos at arkansasonline.com/513kiln/ (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Stephen Swofford)

Following a six-day journey across the highways of Arkansas, a 300-ton kiln from Italy found its "new home" Monday at a hazardous waste company in Gum Springs.

Officials with Arkansas' Department of Transportation announced the arrival of the kiln Monday just before 1:30 p.m.

"Arkansas highways have seen many things in their day, but a 300-ton kiln transport was definitely one of the most memorable," the tweet from ARDOT said Monday. "To anyone who got stuck behind it -- thanks for being patient with us! Roads are all clear."

Over the last week, Arkansans have watched as the kiln was transported across the southern part of the state on a transport that was 220 feet long, 20 feet tall and 18 feet wide, according to officials with ARDOT.

"That's about three times as long as a semi truck and twice as wide," officials with ARDOT wrote on twitter on May 8, just before the kiln's takeoff.

The transportation of the kiln took from Wednesday to Monday.

Those wondering why the kiln from Italy is making its new home in Gum Springs can look to one company: Veolia North America.

Veolia is a company dedicated to "helping our customers address their environmental challenges in energy, water and waste."

Following the kiln's arrival in Gum Springs, which has a population of 91 people, a tweet from the company thanked three Arkansas groups for getting the kiln to the area.

"Thank you again to [ARDOT], Arkansas Highway Police and [Entergy Arkansas] for making this a safe and successful trip," the tweet said. "This kiln will enable Veolia's Gum Springs team to do important work protecting the environment and providing hundreds of jobs in the local community."

ARDOT spokesman Dave Parker said the state's cost to transport the kiln was minimal, but attention from the public was high.

"They contracted most of it out," Parker said. "Really, for us, for ARDOT, [the cost] was minimal. It involved highway police but there wasn't a whole lot of extra overtime or things like that. It was mainly that company out of Memphis. They led the escort, not us."

Barnhart Crane & Rigging of Memphis handled the move.

Early on in its travels, the kiln gained attention from just about every corner of the state.

Parker said that didn't surprise him at all.

"At least, in the public information division, we felt like this kiln story would do well," he said. "With the size of the kiln going through the small towns, the amount of planning that went into it and it going through small-town Arkansas ... it's just a great story."

Through laughter, Parker added, "Not to get too sappy, but, it's made its way to its new home.

"This kiln came from Italy, went up to New Orleans, then to the port in Crossett and now ... [Gum Springs]," Parker said. "It didn't surprise us, the amount of reaction, every day," he said.

"It's just kind of cool ... it's a neat story. We thought people would come out and watch this thing travel and they did."