ANACONDA, Mont. — This weekend Anaconda is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Anaconda Smoke Stack.
For Anacondans the stack represents the hard work that built the town.
“The smoke stack has been a symbol for years and years,” said Jack Stodden.
Stodden worked in the smelter briefly as a teenager. He went on to have a career in the military, but says his work in the smelter prepared him more than boot camp ever could.
"It prepared me for when I went into the military. I went into basic training, and it was easy. It was a snap after swinging a 16-pound sledge all day long,” said Stodden.
In 1977 ARCO bought the Anaconda Company and shut down all smelting operations. Their plan was to demolish the smoke stack, but Anacondans convinced the Montana State Legislature to make it a significant historical structure and create a state park to go with it.
The park is home to a monument that commemorates those who lost their lives working at the smelter.
This weekend visitors are being given an exclusive look at the stack. It’s the world’s tallest free-standing masonry structure.
"As manager of the park I've been here twice before -- that's how limited. I'm not even allowed to come up here,” said park manager Tom Forwood.
For people like Stodden it’s one more opportunity to have a close encounter with the smoke stack that provided so much work to the Anaconda community.
The tours are being offered throughout the day until Saturday evening. They start at Anaconda Stack State Park.