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Anaconda Smoke Stack State Park, Montana


I'd driven past the tall structure seen in the above photo several times before finally deciding to take a closer look at it.  It stands in the foothills of the Anaconda Pintler Mountain Range and is situated several miles south off the I-90 freeway, west of Butte. 

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The tower can be seen for many miles and was featured in last weekend's One Clue mystery photo (see below).   Congratulations to George G, the only one who recognized the spot.

One Clue Mystery

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The smoke stack was constructed in 1918 and was designed to discharge exhaust gases from the various furnaces at the Anaconda Copper Mining Company smelter.

1024px-Anaconda_Smelter_Stack_1920 Courtesy Wikimedia and the Anacomda
Stack and Smelter in 1920, photo courtesy of Wikimedia)

Here are some interesting facts about this smoke stack:

     - it is 585 feet tall, excluding its foundation.
     - the lower 80 feet are octagonal in shape while the rest is circular.
     - 2 large rectangular openings are in the lower octagonal portion measuring
       60 feet tall and 12 feet wide.
     - the circular portion is encircled by large steel rods for reinforcement.
     - the inside diameter is 75 ft at the bottom and 60 ft at the top
     - the wall thickness ranges from six feet at the bottom to two feet at the top       - it was constructed of 2,464,652 locally made perforated tile bricks.
     - it has had 20 lightning rods around its rim.
     - the Washington Monument would fit inside it.

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At the time it was built, the Anaconda Smoke Stack was the tallest chimney of any kind in the world.  Today it remains the world’s tallest and largest free-standing masonry structure and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Anaconda Smelter was demolished after its closure in 1981.  Because of local efforts, the stack remains standing.  In 1986 the site was designated a state park.  It's a simple park, with a viewing/parking area, and the smoke stack which is about 1.2 miles southeast of the viewing area.   The viewing area contains statues of 3 mine workers, with informative plaques, shown below:

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The general public is not allowed access to the stack itself because the soil around it is 7hazardous due to contamination by arsenic, copper, cadmium, lead and zinc.  There is no visitor center or staff at this location.  Although none of this is obvious to the naked eye, as you can see from my telescopic photos below.  The site is now a Superfund cleanup site and hopefully one day you'll be able to walk around the stack.

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It was an interesting and informative visit.  The nearby 7mining town of Anaconda is quite charming and interesting to see, but more on that soon.


Images (18)
  • 1024px-Anaconda_Smelter_Stack_1920  Courtesy Wikimedia and the Anacomda
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  • One Clue Mystery

Twitter: @DrFumblefinger

"We do not take a trip, a trip takes us".  John Steinbeck, from Travels with Charlie

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