Statement of Significance (as of designation - July 4, 1961):
The American Labor History Theme Study, completed in 2003, identified Butte as one of 16 sites that warranted further evaluation as an NHL for its association with labor history. The Butte-Anaconda district represents several themes discussed in the theme study, including: Marking Labor History on the National Landscape, Extractive Labor in the United States, and American Manufacture: Site of Production and Conflict. It meets the requirements for national significance defined in the theme study. This nomination also expands the NHL district to encompass all of the nationally significant resources associated with copper production and unionism. While the 1961 designation focused on Butte, this nomination also includes the communities of Walkerville and Anaconda, as well as the Butte, Anaconda & Pacific Railroad. Walkerville represents the districts mining camp period and was the site of its earliest mining discoveries; Walkervilles mines were also the focus of the districts first labor strike. Anaconda, Buttes "sister city," was an integral component of the copper district. The ore that was mined in Butte was shipped to Anaconda via the Butte, Anaconda & Pacific Railroad for smelting. Established as a company town for the purpose of providing smelting operations for the copper district, Anacondas history and development is intertwined with that of Butte and Walkerville. The Butte-Anaconda Historic District is a unique and outstanding part of Americas built environment that is critical to understanding and appreciating broad patterns of the nations extractive mining and labor history. The historic district powerfully illustrates the dramatic changes that resulted from Americas emergence as the worlds leading industrial nation. The meteoric rise of Butte-Anaconda to the pinnacle of world copper production was inherently linked with the advent of the Age of Electricity and the corresponding industrial revolution of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. By providing vast reserves of red metal just when it was needed most, Butte-Anaconda helped transform the United States into a modern economic superpower. Butte-Anaconda profoundly affected the nations labor movement. As Americas "Gibraltar of Unionism," Butte-Anaconda embodied the strengths (and periodic weaknesses) of the industrial working class, spread the gospel of unionism, and spearheaded the formation of the Western Federation of Miners (WFM) and International Workers of the World (IWW). In addition, events at Butte-Anaconda catalyzed the schism that led to the formation of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO).