Anaconda, Montana

Deer Lodge County Courthouse
Deer Lodge County Courthouse in Anaconda
Anaconda Smoke Stack at the Anaconda smelter

Anaconda was founded in 1883 by Marcus Daly, one of Montana's famous Copper Kings. Daly had bought the nearby Anaconda Mine in 1880 and wanted a place where he could build his own copper smelter and have some control over his miners and other workers. He also needed to get away from all the toxic sulfurous smoke that filled the air in the valleys around Butte. Daly was campaigning to make Anaconda the capital of Montana in 1894 when William Andrews Clark (owner of United Copper Company) threw his money and power into making Helena the state capital. Then Clark tried to bribe his way into the United States Senate and was tossed out for his efforts. A couple years later he was elected fairly and served a single term.

In 1899, Marcus Daly teamed up with two of the principals in Standard Oil (Henry H. Rogers and William Rockefeller) to create Amalgamated Copper Mining Co. Then Daly died in 1900. His widow cozied up to a local banker named John D. Ryan and gave him control of her assets. Then Ryan convinced F. Augustus Heinze (the third of Montana's big copper kings) to sell his holdings to Amalgamated while the Rockefeller investors finally acquired Clark's United Copper Company to create a near-monopoly in the global copper market. By 1910, Amalgamated had swallowed several other smaller copper mining companies, then changed their name to Anaconda Copper Mining Company. It was Rockefeller-Ryan "pump-and-dump" manipulations of Anaconda stock that led, in great part, to the Stock Market Crash of 1929. Company stock was selling at $40 per share in December 1928, then $128 per share in March 1929. The Rockefeller group sold nearly everything they held through the summer and converted into cash. When the stock market finally crashed that October, millions of small investors were wiped out. A Senate banking committee issued a statement in 1933 calling this whole action one of the greatest frauds in American banking history.

Anaconda was sold to ARCO in 1977, then ARCO merged with BP. At this point, the Anaconda holdings in Montana are basically an environmental liability for British Petroleum. Today, the area around Anaconda, Butte and the whole Upper Clark Fork River District are part of an EPA Superfund site. The Old Works Golf Course is the result of some of that EPA pollution remediation effort.

In its heyday, the Anaconda Mine was the richest single copper mine on Earth, eventually turning out more than $300 billion worth of copper, silver and gold.

Anaconda Municipal Building
The Anaconda Municipal Building
Fast Facts about Anaconda, Montana
Anaconda, Deer Lodge County, MT 59711
Founded: 1883
Elevation: 5,335'
Latitude: 46.1333°N
Longitude: 112.9333°W
Resident Racial Breakdown:
White Non-Hispanic: 94.7%
Native American: 1.4%
Hispanic: 1.7%
Two or more races: 1.6%
Asian: 0.3%
African-American: 0.2%
High School or Higher: 84.9%
Bachelor's Degree or Higher: 14.9%
Graduate or Professional Degree: 4.0%
2009 Estimates:
Population: 7,626
Males: 3,746
Females: 3,880
Median Resident Age: 42.0 Years
Estimated Median Household Income: $32,500
Estimated Median Home Value: $100,300
Population Density: 14 People per Square Mile
2011 Cost of Living Index for Anaconda: 85.6
Major Industries:
Lodging & Food Services, Health Care, Educational Services, Construction, Government, Social Services, Repair & Maintenance, Forestry, Finance & Insurance Services, Food Stores
Unemployed (March 2011): 9.0%
Photo of the Deer Lodge County Courthouse courtesy of Wikipedia userid SchmuckyTheCat, CCA ShareAlike 3.0 License.
Photo of the Anaconda Smoke Stack courtesy of Wikipedia userid Banjodog.
Photo of the Anaconda Municipal Building courtesy of the Montana Film Office.
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