Anaconda, Montana

Anaconda's story begins with the opening of a smelter for the copper found in Butte. The smelter brought wealth to the community -- a stylish hotel, a racetrack, and a zoo. The smelter closed in the early 1980s, but the city's story did not end there. In the last 20 years, the city (which consolidated with the county of Deer Lodge in the 1970s) has struggled to diversify its economy and revitalize its downtown. Standing in the way of redevelopment is the aftermath of the smelter: one of the largest Superfund sites in the country. Many of the developable areas in the valley need to be cleaned before they can be built upon. While the population of Anaconda continues to decline, home values have not followed. Like many parts of Montana, Anaconda is being discovered by outsiders looking for "Big Sky Country." But Anaconda has yet to harness the economic benefits of the New West. And while the town's sense of history is strong, several of its historic buildings were lost to 1970s urban renewal efforts.

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Read more:

Anaconda, Montana: Where Main Street Meets the Mountains. Anaconda Chamber of Commerce and Anaconda Local Development Corporation.

Anaconda, Montana: Copper smelting boom town on the western frontier. Patrick Morris. 1997.

Continuity and decline in the anthracite towns of Pennsylvania. Ben Marsh. Annals of the Association of American Geographers. Septem ber 1987.

Hard as the Rock Itself: Place and identity in the American mining town. David Robertson. 2006.

Creating the Old and New Wests: Landscape and Identity in Anaconda and Hamilton, Montana. Jeremy Bryson. 2006. MSci thesis. Department of Earth Sciences, MSU Bozeman.

Horizons: From poverty to prosperity. Northwest Area Foundation.

Montana's Gold West Country visitors' guide.