Anaconda Smoke Stack State Park
Built by the Anaconda Copper Mining Company in 1918, the Anaconda Smoke Stack is one of the most important landmarks in western Montana. Reaching a height of 585 feet and consisting of 2.4 million bricks, it looms over the surrounding landscape and can be seen 20 miles away. It is purported to be the tallest masonry structure in the world. It rests on a 30-foot concrete base, so the actual height of the masonry part of the stack is 555-feet tall. At the base, the interior diameter is 75 feet and at the top the diameter is 60 feet. The smoke stack serves as a remind of Anaconda's industrial history and the significant influence the company had in Montana. Getting close to the smoke stack is generally not allowed since the immediate area around it is polluted. In fact, its not in the park itself, which is small and located some distance away on Anaconda Smelter Road. The park features a parking area and a small circular monument imitating the base of a smokestack, interpretive signs, an old mining car, three statues depicting miners, and a stationary binoculars.
Backstory and Context
The Anaconda Copper Mining Company was founded by Marcus Daly in 1881. Born in Ireland in 1841, Daly arrived in New York City in 1856 when he was 15. In 1861 he eventually made his way to San Francisco where one of his sisters had been living. He found work as a ranch hand, railroad worker, and logger before becoming a miner in the early 1860s. Daly rose up in the ranks and became a foreman for a mining company in Utah. The company sent him to investigate a mine called the Alice Mine, which the company bought; Daly also bought a share of the mine as well. He sold his share of that mine 1881 and bought Anaconda silver mining claim. With financial assistance from other investors, including William Randolph Hearst, Daly developed the mine and found a large deposit of copper there—one of the largest found up to that point. As as result, Daly became rich and one of the "Copper Kings" of the late 19th century. The company would grow to become the largest copper mining company in the world by 1915.
Daly built a smelter to process ore from the mine, which was near Butte, and founded the city of Anaconda in 1883. The first smoke stack was 225 feet high. This was not high enough; the smoke from the stack polluted arsenic, dust, and sulphur oxides, all of which affected the health of the local population, farm animals, and reduced crop yields. A taller, 300-foot smoke stack was built in 1903 but this, too, was not high enough. It took until 1918 for the current smoke stack to be built. However, the stack emitted even more pollution and this continued for several decades until the smelter closed in 1980. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places 1987.
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Wikimedia Commons: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Anaconda_Smelter_Stack