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Anaconda8

Washoe Theater manager Jerry Lussy loves to show off the ornate structure.

Population: Approximately 6,500. County seat of Anaconda-Deer Lodge County. Runner-up to Helena as the 1894 choice to serve as the capital of Montana.

Founded: In 1883 by Marcus Daly, who wanted to call it “Copperopolis.” There was already a town called Copperopolis in Meagher County so the first postmaster, Clinton Moore, named it Anaconda after Daly’s mining company.

Don’t miss:

• Anaconda Smoke Stack State Park, the smallest state park in Montana, where you can view the real Anaconda Company Stack in the distance, get a sense of its actual size (there’s an extremely shorter brick structure built to scale) and read interpretive signs.

• The plain-on-the-outside, spectacular-on-the-inside Washoe Theater (finished in 1936), the last theater in the United States built in the Nuevo Deco style.

• The Hearst Free Library, built by Phoebe Hearst, mother of William Randolph Hearst and great-grandmother of Patty Hearst, in the late 1890s and donated to Anaconda in 1904.

• The Old Works Golf Course, designed by Jack Nicklaus and built on a Superfund site.

• Club Moderne, a bar (finished in 1937) in the Streamline Moderne style.

• The Barclay II Supper Club, an “old-school” supper club that most everybody in town will point you toward if you ask for the best place to eat.

Nearby attractions: Include Georgetown Lake, Discovery Ski Area, Fairmont Hot Springs and the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness.

Notable natives and one-time residents:

• Lucille Ball (the comedienne and actress spent part of her childhood here and sometimes claimed Anaconda as her birthplace, thinking it sounded more intriguing than Jamestown, N.Y., where she was actually born).

• John Collins, an American classical scholar who was fluent in six languages.

• Marcus Daly (one of Montana’s “Copper Kings” and Anaconda’s founder).

• Wayne Estes, one of the greatest basketball players in Montana high school history (a likely first-round NBA pick in 1965, he died the night of his final college game at Utah State University – in which he scored 48 points – when he stopped at the scene of a traffic accident following the game to offer assistance, and was electrocuted when he brushed up against a downed power line).

• Raymond Hunthausen, former Bishop of Helena and Archbishop of Seattle.

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• Rob Johnson, pro baseball player currently with the San Diego Padres.

• Ed Kalafat, who scored more points for the Anaconda Copperheads in his day than Estes did. A first-round NBA draft pick in 1954, Kalafat spent three seasons with the Minneapolis Lakers.

• Nancy Keenan, former Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction and former president of NARAL-Pro Choice America.

• Milan “Sheriff” Lazetich, an All-Pro football player for the Cleveland and Los Angeles Rams. Lazetich, who started his college career at the University of Montana, joined the Navy in 1942 after a year at UM. Following a medical discharge, he worked as a deputy sheriff in Deer Lodge County – hence, the nickname – and then played football for the University of Michigan before turning pro.

• Bill Ray, who spent 22 years representing Juneau in the Alaska Legislature and whose memoir is titled “Liquor, Legislation and Laughter: The Story of a S.O.B.” SOB, it turned out, stood for “sweet old Bill.”

• George Leo Thomas, Bishop of Helena.

• John Tolan, a one-time Deer Lodge County attorney who spent seven terms in the U.S. House of Representatives in the 1930s and ’40s after moving to California.

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Reporter Vince Devlin can be reached at 1-800-366-7186 or by email at vdevlin@missoulian.com.

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