There is plenty to see and do in the Rocky Mountain region of western Montana. World class fly fishing, endless hiking and biking trails, ghost towns, along with some of the best wilderness camping opportunities in the entire west can be found in this place. The majority of mainstream tourists only head north to Glacier National Park next to the border of Canada, so this leaves an abundant amount of uncrowded wide open spaces to explore. There are also several old west historic sites that are well worth checking out and one in particular can actually be seen from many miles away. The Anaconda Smoke Stack towers over this mountainous landscape and with a 585 foot height, it is actually one of the tallest free standing brick structures in the world!
Anaconda Smoke Stack State Park is located about 45 minutes west of Butte, Montana on State Road 1. The signage is easy to spot and for those who are not in the know, it may be difficult to imagine what the word Anaconda refers to and in this case the definition has nothing to do with a gigantic snake. The name came from the Anaconda Copper Company, which was one of the largest smelting facilities in the west way back in the early 1900s. A big copper ore processing facility needs a big smelter smoke stack and the one at Anaconda certainly is the grandaddy of them all. The concrete foundation is equally as massive and this area is the heart of the state park. Standing too close will like cause a bad kink in the neck, so the best views are found a few hundreds yards away. There is a large trail system in this park and there are many good vantage points to choose from. Plenty of historical information placards can be found along the trails, so a hiking or biking venture will truly be a learning experience for visitors of all ages.
The Anaconda Smoke Stack is slowly eroding and only the top section is still coated with terracotta. The brick and mortar masonry is exposed on the rest of this big chimney, but this smoke stack was so overbuilt that it is unlikely to come tumbling down anytime soon. The Anaconda Smoke Stack currently is the tallest surviving masonry structure in the world and it truly is a marvel to see in person. For this reason, be sure to chalk this little side trip up on the list when planning a tour of the Montana Rockies!
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