Lime City

Lime City is the most unusually preserved industrial relic I have ever witnessed. The monolithic lime kilns stand proud over the modern houses that are perched nearby, virtually undistrubed by the passage of time.
Legend:
Red: Potential Area of the Limestone Lease
 
Purple: Lime Kilns
 
Black: Abandoned Shack

White Border: Area of Lime City Operations

 
 
Directions to Lime City from Frank, AB.
          Lime City, the most impressive and mysterious of all the ghost towns within the Crowsnest Pass. In fact, I did not even come across this site when I was initially researching the Pass’ rich history. It was until I visited the Frank Slide Interpretive Center when I came across this well-kept secret, and was shown where I could find it. Upon arrival I was simply in awe. The impressive monolithic lime kilns stood proud and surprisingly undisturbed, surviving the passage of time unlike other industrial artifacts. There was an odd juxtaposition between the astonishing preservation of this site and the lack of information that surrounded it. From the Glenbow Archives, to Crowsnest Heritage resources, I could only find minimal information on who lived within the locality and the stories that surrounded the townsite. I, as an avid ghost town adventurer, found this site as the most beautiful and awe inspiring out of the other ghost towns I have visited in Alberta. At the time of this writing, I am still looking for more information on this locality and specifically why the kilns are still standing, unlike other historical industrial buildings. Regardless of the reason, I am glad that they are still standing for people to explore and witness for themselves.
          The beginnings of Lime City are owed to a Blairmore entrepreneur, named Joe Little, who found opportunity in the tragedy of the 1903 Frank Slide (Reid, 1979, pg. 140). Little, along with two business partners, D. Kristie and J.A. Henderson, purchased a portion of the eastern edge of the Frank Slide with the motivation to produce lime with the rocks from Turtle Mountain. With 85% pure limestone content, the material was ideal for making lime, which was used for construction, extinguishing mine fires, and controlling dangerous coal dust (Wilson, 2002). Little built two lime Kilns just to the north side of today’s 207 St. east of the Frank slide. They laid out a track from the Frank slide, which could be 207 St., and lime rock was broken into football size pieces to be loaded into containers. Horses would then pull these containers to a steam hoist to bring the container to the top of the lime kiln. Wood from the local lumber mill would then be burning inside the kiln, and the foreman would pull a rope at the top of the kiln to let the rock fall into the chamber. At the bottom of the structure lime would accumulate, which was collected and sent to market in barrels for commercial use (Reid, 1979, pg. 140). This business venture was very unique in the Crowsnest, considering manufacturing was not as sought after as merchandising, hospitality, or mining. This venture paid off, considering the growing population of the Crowsnest Pass demanded lime for masonry and construction projects.
          The Winnipeg Fuel and Supply Company, incorporated in 1904, recognized this and purchased the two lime kilns in 1912 to meet this demand (Goldborough, 2014). The Company had a foreman by the name of George M. Pattison, who lived in a modest cottage on the property and was in charge of no more than 10 men. To make the operation more efficient, Pattison convinced the CPR to make a spur line from the Crowsnest main line to transport the lime easier (Wilson, 2002). He also built a third (more distinct looking) kiln on the property that was made out of cheaper material (Reid, 1979, pg. 141). The workers also lived on the property in a bunkhouse, which was absent of electric lights. The only utility that was on site were the natural springs near the Frank Slide, which allowed for fresh water for the residents. Pattison did have a phone in his office, but to get the mail he would have to ride west on horseback to Frank. Jean Pattison, George Pattison’s daughter, would attend school, church, and leisure activities in Bellevue with her brother, while her mother attended the Ladies’ Aid in Bellevue, and George Pattison attended the Sentinel Masonic Lodge at Hillcrest (Reid, 1979, pg. 142).
          The downfall of Lime City began in 1914; two years after the Winnipeg Fuel and Supply Company purchased the property. The decline of population during WWI contributed to a decline in demand for building materials, which was the main purpose of manufacturing the lime. By the end of the war the kilns completely ceased operations, and in 1922 the site was abandoned with Pattison leaving the Company to open a hardware store in Coleman (Crowsnest Heritage, 2010). The Pattison’s cottage was then moved to Bellevue, where it stands on the street behind the church. Despite the short-lived use of the lime kilns the structures are standing as proud as ever. With minimal damage and vandalism done over the last 100 years on the kilns, I would say that they are the most well preserved historical artifacts I have witnessed. What is even more bizarre is the fact that there a few people living in close proximity to the kilns, almost as if a community was built around them. According to Jean Pattison, the proprietary records of Lime City were destroyed in 1966.  She was then informed that the “quarrying rights covering the above lands are available for disposition” (Reid, 1979, pg. 142). As of 2015, I believe the site is protected as a historical resource by the provincial government. However, at one point the site was not protected and the rights were open to being bought by private interest. This leaves me with one question I need to answer, why did no one take the property and destroy or use the kilns? This is a question that I will need to answer in the near future.
        
Photos
  1. The Lime Kilns
    The Lime Kilns
    Photo by Jason Ferris
  2. View From a Lime Kiln
    View From a Lime Kiln
    Photo by Jason Ferris
  3. Outhouse
    Outhouse
    Photo by Jason Ferris
  4. Lime City Shack
    Lime City Shack
    Photo by Jason Ferris
  5. More Ruins
    More Ruins
    Photo by Jason Ferris
  6. Inside a Lime Kiln...
    Inside a Lime Kiln...
    Photo by Jason Ferris
  7. Monolith
    Monolith
    Photo by Jason Ferris
  8. Lime City
    Lime City
    Photo by Jason Ferris
  9. More Pictures of the Lime Kilns
    More Pictures of the Lime Kilns
    Photo by Jason Ferris
  10. Inside a Lime Kiln
    Inside a Lime Kiln
    Photo by Jason Ferris
References
Crowsnest Heritage. "Winnipeg Fuel and Supply Lime Kilns." Municipality of the
Crowsnest Pass. Web. 21 Aug. 2015. .
 
Goldsborough, Gordon. "Winnipeg Supply and Fuel Company / Winnipeg
Supply Service Experts." MHS Centennial Business: Winnipeg Supply and Fuel Company / Winnipeg Supply Service Experts. 2014. Web. 15 Aug. 2015. .
 
Read, Jean. “Winnepeg Fuel and Supply Lime Kiln.”  Crowsnest and Its People.
Coleman, Alta.: Crowsnest Pass Historical Society, 1979. Print. Pg. 140 - 142.
 
Wilson, D.M. "Leaving Frank” Crowsnest Highway. 2 Feb. 2002. Web.
25 Aug. 2015.    
Photos taken by:
Deadwood Imaging (Jason Ferris)