The historic districts of Butte and Anaconda in Montana are among the most interesting in the U.S., with a variety of cultural and natural resources. The Butte-Anaconda National Historic Landmark District contains the most diverse collection of historical sites of any such district. The Butte–Anaconda Historic & Cultural District is comprised of three towns: Anaconda, Butte, and Walkerville.
The Butte and Anaconda railroad began in 1876 as a subsidiary of the Butte Mining Company. It started hauling copper ore from the Alice mine, and its 33 steam locomotives were a boon to its operations. Butte became the first heavy-haul railroad to go electric, and it subsequently became the world’s first heavy-haul electrification.
The Butte and Anaconda Railway began operation in 1892. The railway serviced copper ore, general freight, and passenger trains from Helena. It was a popular rail line, but the Panic of 1893 prevented it from completing its intended route east of the city. The Butte and Anaconda Railroad operated for almost two decades. However, the railroad was unable to reach the region it had hoped for.
The Butte and Anaconda Mining Superfund site in northern Montana is the largest in the United States. The preservation of historic mining infrastructure is often incompatible with Superfund remediation. Butte and Anaconda’s historic mining infrastructure can be interpreted through the lens of a large historical landscape. The complex history of industrialized mineral extraction has become a fascinating aspect of the Butte and Anconda.
The Butte and Anaconda have both had a Chinese community. The town was established in 1883 to support a nearby copper smelting facility. The Chinatown had a long and varied history. The first Chinatown of the city was located on Birch Street between Front Street and East Park Avenue. Some of the first Chinese businesses were the Sing Lee Laundry and the Tri Yeun Company.
The Butte and Anaconda area was home to the Butte, Anaconda and Pacific Railway. Designed by an Irishman, the railroad was constructed with 75-pound steel rails to accommodate heavy freight traffic. Because of its design, it was envisioned to carry more tonnage per mile than any other railroad in the country. It was this uniqueness that gave the railroad its nickname, “Bigger Little Railroad in the Nation.”
The city of Butte and Anaconda, Montana is the seat of Anaconda-Deer Lodge County. The city was originally known as “Copperopolis” when the giant Anaconda Copper Mining Company decided to build a smelting facility to process its copper ore. In 1888, this community was renamed Anaconda to distinguish it from the name of a copper smelter in Meagher County.