Anaconda-Deer Lodge County (population 9,417), a consolidated city-county government, is located in the fertile Deer Lodge Valley, one of the first areas settled in Montana. Thanks to abundant farming and ranching, the community flourished in the early 1850s. An increase in mining in the area created a growing market for agricultural products and eventually attracted “Copper King” Marcus Daly. He established the world’s largest non-ferrous mineral reduction plant and founded the town of Anaconda in 1883.
Smelting was the town’s principal industry for about the next 100 years, even as the price and demand for copper fluctuated. In 1980, a sinking market for copper, competition from South America, and environmental concerns led to a shut-down of nearby copper mines and the Anaconda Company Smelter. The site was declared one of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund sites but was reborn as the Old Works Golf Course, designed by Jack Nicklaus, which incorporates historical artifacts into its layout.
Today, Anaconda’s economy is based on the approximately 13,000 tourists who take advantage of the area’s spectacular scenery and recreational opportunities each year: alpine and cross country skiing, dog sledding, hunting, fishing, biking, and golfing.
In 2006, Anaconda-Deer Lodge County partnered with Butte-Silver Bow County to expand the existing Butte National Historic Landmark designation to include the homes and industrial buildings of Anaconda.
A principal attraction is the Washoe Theatre, listed on the National Register of Historic Places and ranked by the Smithsonian as one of the five most beautiful theaters in America. The Copper King Express excursion train traces the route of the Butte, Anaconda & Pacific Railway, using refurbished 1953 railway cars. Bus tours explore local historic neighborhoods, the Anaconda Smoke Stack Interpretive Center, and the theater.
Designated a Preserve America Community in January 2007.