Almost from the beginning, the smelter experienced problems, primarily caused by the lack of ore.
The East Helena Smelter, located in Helena, Montana went on-line just one month after the Great Falls smelter; consequently, there was stiff competition between these two smelters and those in Colorado.
Due to the seriousness of the situation, on June 3, 1889, Anton Eilers wrote a letter to Samuel Hauser stressing the urgency of the problem with the Colorado mines. He feared both of their smelters would shut down. (Although financial data is not available for the Great Falls smelter, we know, because of this letter, that it suffered comparable losses as did the East Helena smelter). By early 1890, the blast furnaces at the Great Falls smelter had been shut down for three months and the Helena smelter faced the same situation.
It can be presumed that until the Neihart branch of the St. Paul, Minneapolis & Manitoba was completed to Monarch in May 1890 and to Neihart in the fall of 1891, ore shipments were low from that area.
Other smelters in Montana and Colorado were raiding sources of ore that the Great Falls smelter had targeted.
What was the solution to this problem? Click to find out.
Other problems the smelter faced included:
The Silver Panic of 1893, which caused a national depression.
Obsolescence - technology was improving so fast in the mining industry that almost as soon as the smelter was built, many aspects of it were already obsolete.
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