DEER LODGE COUNTY

History of Deer Lodge-Anaconda

Anaconda was founded in 1882 by Marcus Daly who was known as one of the “Copper Kings” at the time. Daly selected the site of Anaconda due to its ample limestone and water required for smelting copper ore and established the Anaconda Mine. The community was to be recognized as Copperopolis, but the name Anaconda was chosen to avoid postal confusion with an already established Copperopolis in Meagher County. Daly built the Anaconda Smelter Stack in 1883, the tallest freestanding structure in the world, and Anaconda began to thrive as mining operations fueled its economy. Businesses were established to meet the growing needs of the community and new residents arrived to work in the mines. The population of Anaconda began to boom and in 1891 the community battled Helena for the state capitol and lost, but was selected as the county seat of Deer Lodge County.

Mining operations came to a halt in 1980 as the smelter was closed and its economy began to shift towards tourism. Anaconda is now home to several notable sites including the Washoe Theater, built in 1931, one of the best preserved public theaters in the country and recognized on the National Register of Historic Places. Anaconda’s proximity to the Continental Divide has made
the community a haven for recreational activities, including the Anaconda Smelter State Park. Many efforts have been put forth to preserve the area’s rich history and celebrate the natural beauty found nearby, making it an ideal place to live and visit.

Today Anaconda is home to approximately 8,792 residents.