Great Falls-Cascade County Historic Preservation Officer
The Boston and Montana Barn was built in 1901 to house wagons, horses, and construction equipment for the Boston and Montana Company, which pre-dated the Anaconda Copper Mining Company's smelting and refining operations in Black Eagle, MT. Construction of the "Big" stack began in 1908, and by 1915, the properties of the Boston and Montana Company were acquired by the Anaconda Copper Mining Company.
The barn is a two-story, wood-framed, gable-roofed structure built in a T-plan oriented north-south on the south end of the Anaconda Hills golf course. The barn has a sandstone foundation and is situated on a small rise that slopes down to the east and the south. It is the only remaining industrial building on the former 405 acre ACM site.
The barn has served a variety of industrial support uses over its approximately 120 year history. For an unknown period of time, it served as a fire station for the ACM facility. Three finished bedrooms lined the northwest wall of the rear (west) wing, which housed the firemen. According to the Sanborn map, the rear wing was protected by an automatic sprinkler system. According to oral reports, firemen and others liked to play basketball on the second floor east wing. They removed the structural supports in order to have a clear-span, weakening the structural system.
Based on Sanborn maps, the barn was being used for automobiles and storage in 1929 and in 1950 the second floor had a gymnasium, while the first floor was still sued for storage and automobiles. The City of Great Falls Parks and Recreation Department used the barn until it became too dilapidated; it was used for golf card and other storage to support recreational needs.
Today, the barn stands unused. Each year the roof keeps out less and less of the winter weather, and each year the hop of saving some piece of its proud industrial beginnings grows smaller. If this piece of ACM history is to be saved, urgent action needed to be taken.
Join the Big Sky Country National Heritage Area for our 2024 Annual Meeting.
It will be held Monday, January 22, 2024, from 4:00 - 5:00 p.m. at the Great Falls Public Library, 201 2nd Ave North, in the Cordingly Room.
We will be reviewing our accomplishments, including the seven projects we either carried out or supported in the last year, as well as electing officers.
This past year the Big Sky Country NHA served the residents of Cascade County and a portion of Chouteau County by providing them with grants and supporting their work. Of course, we couldn't do it without your ongoing support! Please review our Year End Letter and consider donating today. You can donate online at www.bigskycountrynha.org/donate or click on this QR code:
Documenting the history of Black Eagle is critical, so when the BSCNHA learned that Dick Sloan, the last operations director for the Smelter had digital copies of photos from an old Smelter scrapbook - plus more from his personal collection - we asked Sloan if we could take his oral history.
He readily agreed, and has now given an extensive oral history of the closing of the smelter. He has also identified and cataloged the photographs from the scrapbook and those photos he has. These photos show the hardworking workers and the history of the Black Eagle smelting and refining operations.
We have since learned that the former River's Edge Trail Manager Doug Wicks gave the original scrapbook to The History Museum, so we have now identified those photos.
Sloan is now employed by the MT Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and works closely with the Black Eagle Civic Club's Technical Advisory Group, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), ARCO, and many other stakeholders to determine what ARCO needs to do to cleanup the Black Eagle Residential yards and eventually the smelter site itself.
The unedited film of Sloan's oral history will be given to the Cascade County Historical Society. We will work with Erin Schermele Films to provide a short (approximately 1 hour) film using highlights from each interview. Judy Ellinghausen, an archivist at the Cascade County Historical Society (dba The History Museum) is transcribing the interviews and creating a keyword index for researchers.
When the video is completed, the BSCNHA hopes to have Sloan discuss the work at The History Museum at one of their Second Saturday series. We will donate the video, transcription, archival digital photos, and raw interview footage to The History Museum. The BSCNHA thanks The History Museum for their support, providing museum space for the interview sessions and allowing us to use their transcription equipment.
Are you working on a project or program that could use a grant of $500 to $1000? The BSCNHA still has some funding from the Project Partner Fund! If your organization is interested in applying, contact us to see if your project fits within the funding guidelines. We hope to get the remaining funding deployed by May 1, 2022, so apply soon. Contact us through our online form.
It has come to our attention that opponents of the Big Sky Country National Heritage Area are receiving unsigned letters attacking them. These letters are sent without return addresses, from people outside of Montana. These letters contain abusive and otherwise inappropriate language.
Big Sky Country National Heritage Area does not in any way, shape or form solicit, encourage or support any of these communications. Furthermore, we totally disavow these communications, as well as any attempts to disparage our opposition in this manner. Likewise, we also reject any effort by our opponents to attribute these letters and postings to our organization.
U.S. Senators and Congressmen throughout the country have long supported National Heritage Areas, and they continue to do so! Recognizing the economic value of National Heritage Areas, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Congressman Hal Rogers (R-KY) introduced companion bills to study whether 41 counties in Kentucky could become the Kentucky Wildlands NHA; those bills became Public Law 116-94, as a part of the larger Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020.
Here is what Rep. Rogers' press release said about their bills: "Volunteers across Southern and Eastern Kentucky have worked tirelessly to preserve and cleanup the region, and this study brings us one step closer to highlighting their work across our incredible landscape for more visitors to enjoy," said Congressman Rogers. "Senator McConnell and I have worked hard to protect important programs and initiatives for our beloved state, like this Kentucky Wildlands tourism initiative."
"The rich history and scenic beauty of Kentucky’s Appalachian region deserve to be preserved for visitors, families and communities to enjoy, and our bill to tap into this great heritage will help do just that. Promoting the unique culture of the Commonwealth’s wilderness as our first National Heritage Area can encourage new tourism and economic activity in Southern and Eastern Kentucky," said Senator McConnell. "I’d like to thank Congressman Rogers for partnering with me to deliver for this region and the men and women who call it home. As Senate Majority Leader, I was proud to ensure this Kentucky initiative will soon be on its way to President Trump’s desk to become law." (See https://halrogers.house.gov/2019/12/rogers-mcconnell-secure-kentucky-wildlands-national-heritage-area-study-act-in-final-federal-funding-package-for-2020.)
The Kentucky Wildlands National Heritage Area Feasibility Study is progressing, at tax payers expense, through the National Park Service. Want to know more about the Kentucky Wildlands and their work toward becoming an NHA? Their website shows why that area is rich in heritage, deserving of being designated as a NHA, and what the long-term benefits of National Heritage Areas are. "As a National Heritage Area, The Kentucky Wildlands would receive technical assistance and federal funding through a partnership with the National Park Service. The National Park Service is a partner and advisor, leaving decision-making authority in the hands of local people and organizations. The National Park Service does not assume ownership of land inside heritage areas or impose land use controls." Check out the work that they are doing!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TO: NEWS MEDIA OUTLETS
FROM: RICH ECKE, VICE CHAIRMAN, BIG SKY COUNTRY NATIONAL HERITAGE AREA
CONTACT ABOUT NEWS RELEASE: RICH at 406-788-1893
GREAT FALLS -- The nonprofit Big Sky Country National Heritage Area has announced the Partner Project Fund, a program to assist community groups that are working to renovate historic structures, improve historic sites, develop educational programs, boost heritage tourism and more.
Projects must be located in Cascade County or a portion of Chouteau County where the heritage area is to be located. In this initial round, Partner Project Funds from $500 to $1,000 each will be awarded up to a total of $5,000, after requests for funds are evaluated by the group.
An application package is available from the group’s website at www.bigskycountrynha.org; or applicants can request an application packet by writing P.O. Box 1323, Great Falls, MT 59403, or by sending a request via email to email@example.com.
“We’re very excited about this new program, and we will begin accepting applications immediately,” said Jane Weber, chair of the Big Sky Country National Heritage Area and a former Cascade County commissioner. “The heritage area aims to enhance local communities and boost the area’s economy, and we appreciate all the support we have received from thoughtful folks throughout the region.”
The heritage area will submit a feasibility study to the National Park Service in 2021; action by Congress on the proposal is expected in the next several years. Congress has the final say.
Officials from the heritage area group will announce approval of Partner Project Funds in the coming weeks and months.
Efforts by community volunteers to create a national heritage area in central Montana began in earnest half a decade ago. To donate to the Big Sky Country National Heritage Area, go to the group’s website or Facebook page. Personal checks and all major credit cards are accepted. For more information or to offer any questions or concerns, write the Big Sky Country National Heritage Area, P.O. Box 1323, Great Falls MT 59403. The organization is a 501 (c)(3) private nonprofit.
According to a news release, Partner Project Funds can be used for:
Partner Project Funds cannot be used for: