Our Home in Anaconda Montana
By Steve Gillman
Note: This page was first written in 2004, and edited
only slightly since then. For more recent updates on the town,
see our page; Anaconda
In Anaconda, Montana you can fly fish, go to a movie for three
dollars in a beautiful old art-deco theater, drop some nickels
in a slot machine (a dozen casinos), eat at a fine restaurant,
stop by the bar for a dollar beer, and buy a house for under
$30,000 - all within a four bock area! There are good schools
and churches, a library with internet service, and wildlife (including
bears) a few hundred yards from downtown.
Our Little Pink House - Purchase Price: $17,500
2br, full basement, garage w/opener, large kitchen, hardwood
floors, sun room
In Anaconda, as in much of western Montana, the scenery consists
of mountains, lakes and streams. Mount Haggin, at 10,700 feet,
provides a great backdrop to the town. It even dresses up white
with snow or hail several times during summer. The high meadows
of Mount Haggin, above the trees, are covered with flowers in
July, and worth the strenuous hike/climb to get to them. The
town itself is at 5,280 feet - Montana's mile-high city.
Buying a Little Pink House in Anaconda Montana
We pulled into Anaconda on a Sunday morning in May of 2002,
and fell in love with the town by Sunday afternoon. On Monday
we looked at several houses priced from $13,000 to $30,000, and
made an offer on one. Our offer was accepted, and we bought a
beautiful house for $17,500. The closing was set for June, and
we headed back to Michigan to pack our things.
A few repairs were needed, but we still had less than $20,000
total into the house when we sold it five months later for $28,000.
At the moment there are still many houses for sale for under
$30,000 in Anaconda, and it isn't that difficult to get a mortgage
loan locally (check out our page on financing
for information on mortgage loans and other types of financing).
The mines that were the economic base in this corner of Montana
have mostly closed or reduced operations. After the smelter closed
in Anaconda in 1981, the town began to lose population, which
is why the houses are cheap. All that is left of the smelter
is the landmark smokestack. It is the largest free-standing masonry
smokestack in the world. The "Old Works Golf Course,"
designed by Jack Nicklaus , has taken the place of what used
to be the "works." The buildings have all been removed,
and the area is in the final stages of cleaning up remaining
slag piles and such.
The result of this economic trouble has been a town without
good jobs, but one that is cleaner and still in an area of wonderful
natural beauty. That makes it a good place to retire to, or to
move to when you have an internet business or other non-location-based
business. The latter is our own plan for the future. We haven't
given up on Anaconda.
What You'll Find in Anaconda
Montana allows "casinos" to be opened in almost
any bar, gas station or place of business. These usually consist
of one or two dozen slot machines, and you'll find at last a
dozen of these "casinos" in Anaconda, most with nickel
slot machines. The most unique establishment is the laundromat
that is also a bar and a casino. (Main street, just east of downtown,
if you're interested.)
The Washoe Theater is a classic old Art-Deco theater in the
heart of downtown (almost everything is in the heart of downtown
in Anaconda). The Smithsonian Institution has named it as one
of the five most beautiful theaters in the country. If you want
to enjoy a movie there, it will cost you $3, or $4 on weekends.
All over town you'll see plaques in front of buildings and
houses. Much of the towns buildings are on the National Register
Of Historic Places. If you like classic old architecture, the
courthouse, and the Hearst Free Library in particular, are worth
There is a ski area 20 minutes out of town, near Georgetown
Lake, which itself is a great place to visit. We ate trout from
the lake, and there are even windsurfers on it at times. The
drive there takes you up into some spectacular mountains. Turn
down almost any gravel or dirt road along the way and you'll
find uncrowded trails that will take you high into the mountains
and deep into some of the most isolated wilderness around.
Anaconda, Montana, meets all of our personal criteria for
a great town with cheap houses. It has two major grocery stores,
a library with fast internet service, a hospital, a theater,
many restaurants, and wildlife that sometimes comes right into
town. (Bears, cougars, and bighorn sheep have all been seen on
the city streets or edges of town.) Butte is only 25 minutes
away, and has a Walmart and other big chain stores.
The setting is what will bring us back. We used to walk four
blocks to the hill behind town, and from there it is nothing
but wilderness. Five minutes by car took us to Lost Creek State
Park, with it's waterfalls and thousand-foot-high cliffs. Maybe
next time we'll be back to stay.
Some Information on Anaconda
Anaconda, Montana sits in the southwestern part of the state
near the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness. It is in Deer Lodge County,
which as of 2004 had a population of 9,000 - most of that in
the town itself. It is only six miles from I-90, and less than
a half-hour drive from Butte.
Average High Temperature In July: 79.
Average High Temperature in January: 29.
Average Annual Precipitation: 13.6 inches.
Community Hospital of Anaconda - The only hospital
The Washoe Theater - It is rated one of the most beautiful
in the U.S. by the Smithsonian Institute.
Several City Parks - They are generally well-maintained.
Three Golf Courses Nearby - The Jack Nicklaus-designed
Old Works Golf course is right in town.
Lost Creek State Park - The park is a short drive away,
and has waterfalls, cliffs, and hiking trails.
The Copper King Express - This is a inner train that
runs through the scenery from Anaconda to Butte.
Fairmont Hot Springs - Open year-round, seven miles
The Hearst Free Library - Nice library, classic old
Georgetown Lake - This 2800-acre lake is nestled in
the mountains 18 miles west of town.
Bannack Ghost Town - This is located about 30 miles
west of Anaconda.
Casinos - There are a dozen or more in town, all with
nickel and quarter slot machines.
Rocky Mountain Brewing - This is a new (2007) brew
pub and restaurant.
Mount Haggin Recreation Area - 10 miles south (the
10,600-foot mountain overlooks the town).
Classic Architecture - Many of the buildings in Anaconda
are on the National Register of Historic Sites.
See our update
on Anaconda for more recent information on home prices.