The Montana Smelting Company

Incorporated on 21 December 1887 as the Montana Smelting Company.

Construction began March 1888 and was completed January 1889.

The complex sat on 250 acres south of what was then and is now called Giant Springs.

Capacity output of approximately 250 tons of ore per day.  (This exceeded the capacity of Eilers' Colorado Smelter by more than 30 tons per day).

Initial capital investment -$1,340,000 (about $29,000,000 today)

Initial Board of Trustees: Frederic Anton Eilers, Walter S. Gurnee and Augustus C. Gurnee


    Anton Eilers                                    Walter S. Gurnee          Augustus C. Gurnee 
    Major stockholder;
    Smelter design and technologies                    It is believed that Walter and Augustus Gurnee were the representatives
                                                                       of the New York investors.                                       

The Great Falls Silver Smelter was considered a sophisticated custom smelter.   (Prior to the late 1870s, most smelters were built at the mine site and could only process the ore from that mine.  If the mine failed, so did the smelter). Anton Eilers designed the smelter using the technology implemented at Leadville, Colorado.  

Because the custom smelter could process ore from anywhere in the world, it held several advantages:

    Could mix ores of different compositions to maintain plant efficiency

    Could draw from a wider territory and thus reduce the exposure
             to closures of individual mines

    Could negotiate reduced freight rates because of increased rail use

    Could undercut prices paid by competing smelters



Click to find out about the smelter's infrastructure    


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