It was around this time that the project for a Gotthard railway tunnel linking the northern part of Switzerland with the Italian part became a reality. In 1873 the chemist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite and later founder of the Nobel Prize, established a new dynamite factory on the peninsula of Isleten. The new company prospered, and tons and tons of dynamite were used during the project to blast the tunnel, which ultimately was 15 km long.
There were many successful years during the 20th century, especially
with large tunnelling projects and the construction of large dams for hydroelectric
New types of emulsion explosives and the increase in mechanical methods for tunnel construction dramatically reduced the use of dynamite. Prices were also eroded by national and international
competition. Stricter safety and environmental laws required investments that could not be justified by the potential benefits to be derived from the explosive business. The production of dynamite was therefore halted in 2001, and the company decided to focus on the production of materials used in the pharmaceutical industry and on other special applications.