This was a purely accidental discovery. While walking a back field, looking for signs of something else I was looking for, I encountered a fence line. I followed the line a short distance before finding an opening leading to a low stone wall. Climbing over the wall, I found myself in an open yard, with this saw mill.
At first, I wasn't sure as to its status, but the closer I got, the more obvious it became that no one had used it in some time. Sweet!
Prior to 1912, Coniston was mostly a farming community. The Mond Nickel Company decided to build a new facility, and felt that Coniston was ideal due to the close proximity of both major railroads.
Construction of a new smelter began immediately. Mond would continue to develop Coniston, not just as a nickel plant, but also as a town until 1928 when it would be bought out by INCO.
In 1912, Mr. F. Lankford began buying land around the train station. Although the true purpose was kept secret, there were many rumours about the intended use of the land, including the construction of a major ranch, or a large goat farm. Once 5000 acres had been secured, it was announced that Canadian Explosives Limited (CXL) had been the purchaser and they were building a dynamite and gelatin production plant on the land.
My best information at this time indicates this massive building was completed in 1955 at a cost of $19,000,000 and features a 637-foot stack. The plant was the first of its kind, utilizing a process invented and developed by the company to separate iron from the waste ore produced by mining nickel. The high grade iron that resulted from this proceass gave the company a new revenue stream and boosted the efficiency of their operation overall.