Butte-Anaconda Historic District

It took millions of miles of copper to build the telegraph, telephone, and electrical lines that transformed the United States from a collection of small, isolated communities to a cohesive, industrialized nation. Looming gallows frames and the towering Anaconda Company smokestack recall the industrial roots of these sister cities, the source of much of that copper. Extracting the metal was hazardous work, and the danger bred solidarity among miners and smelterworkers. Two of the nation’s most radical unions had their roots in Butte and Walkerville, “The Gibraltar of Unionism.” They were the Western Federation of Miners and the Industrial Workers of the World, whose rhetoric opposing “wage slavery” challenged the foundations of American capitalism. Clashes between capitalism and labor marked the district, especially after the 1917 Butte Granite Mountain/Speculator Mine fire, the worst hard-rock mining disaster in the nation’s history. Labor unrest and years under martial law followed in Butte, while in Anaconda, the Company fired suspected Socialists and agitators, devastating the unions. Butte and Anaconda workers reorganized during the New Deal after the federal government guaranteed the right of workers to unionize. Their four-month industry-wide strike in 1934 precipitated the birth of the CIO, an organization that helped rejuvenate the labor movement nationwide. In 2006, the National Park Service recognized Butte, Anaconda, and Walkerville’s significance to the intertwined histories of mining and labor by declaring the district a National Historic Landmark. It is the largest NHL in the West, covering the period 1876-1934 and encompassing nearly 10,000 acres with over 6,000 contributing resources.

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The boundaries for this National Historic Landmark roughly encompass: For Walkerville: Approximately the southern half of the town of Walkerville. For Butte: The Uptown area bordered by Front Street and the Railroad BA & P Main Line on the south; the edge of historic mining landscape on the east; Walkerville’s northern boundary on the north; and the western edge of the city tracing the ridgeline along Big Butte, the Montana Tech boundaries and edges of the town’s Southwest neighborhood and the smelter district on the west. For Anaconda: The city limits on the east and south; on the north, the BA & P yards and tracks define the boundary; on the west, the boundary traces the city’s limits during the period of historic significance. Visually, the historic street lighting system helps a visitor to identify the western limits of the district as well. For the BA & P Railroad: In Anaconda, the BA & P Main Yard, Depot, East Yard; the steel track and the 26-mile rail corridor leading to Butte; the sidings at Durant, Gregson, and Rocker; the Main Line track corridor into Butte and the remaining intact segment at the terminus of the Butte Hill line; the West Butte yard. The boundaries along the rail corridor take in 10 feet to either side of the BA & P Main Line’s center line. For the Anaconda Smoke Stack: The boundaries follow the 5760-foot elevational contour line surrounding the smelter stack atop Smelter Hill. For Butte’s Socialist Hall: The boundaries encompass the south 10 feet of Lot 13 and all of Lot 14, Cobban Addition, Butte, Section 19, Township 3 North, Range 7 West in the City of Butte. Butte, Walkerville, and Anaconda, Montana ~ Private