While in Montana, the closet town to travel to for the post office and groceries, is Anaconda, Montana. It is a cute little town with slow speed zones for 5 miles before arriving in the town and then 25 MPH through the entire town. Easy to get a ticket (smile).
Between 1892 and 1903, Anaconda was the largest copper producing mine in the world. It produced $300 billion worth of metal in its lifetime.
In 1977, Atlantic Richfield bought the mine. Copper prices dropped and ARCO suspended operations. The land around was highly contaminated. Milling and smelting produced wastes with high concentrations of arsenic as well as other heavy metals.
Atlantic Richfield has spent hundreds of millions of dollars decontaminating and rehabilitating the area, though I read that the job is far from finished.
This is a picture of the 585 foot tall smelter smokestack. It is seen from quite a distance as you approach the city. I am told it is large enough on top for a car to drive.
Look at the house in the middle. Yes, there is one house and the sides of two others in this picture. These homes were built for the miners. The house is one window and one door wide, but deep. The front of the house is the living room, then you walk into the kitchen and bathroom, and the last room is the bedroom. Some of the smelter homes remaining are in dire need of renovation, but this one is my favorite because it is just too cute! Every year we are here, I need to stop in front of this house and just enjoy the quaintness. The picket fence and the hollyhocks add such a taste of nostalgia.