The Anaconda Smoke Stack State Park in Montana is unique because it’s probably the only state park in the nation whose primary feature (the Anaconda Smelter Stack) is too dangerous to even approach.
The stack was completed in 1919 by the Alphons Custodis Chimney Construction Company to discharge gas from the various smelting furnaces in The Anaconda Copper Company’s factory. At the time, the 585 foot high stack was the largest smoke stack in the country, so large in fact that the entire Washington Monument could be hidden inside.
Of course copper smelting releases a number of poisonous and carcinogenic chemicals into the air, and for over 60 years, that’s exactly what it did. By the time the facility officially closed in 1980, the ground surrounding the plant was so contaminated, the building was razed and the stack condemned. Local citizens who apparently remembered fondly the days when the stack’s arsenic-laced clouds poured down upon the hapless citizens of two counties, decided the stack was too valuable to tear down.
So, they persuaded the state to officially establish a state park on the site in 1986. And today, you can get a pretty good view of the stack from the edge of the park, one mile away. That’s because the site is still too lethal to get any closer.