Tallest brick structure
Anaconda Smelter Stack
169.2 metre(s)
United States (Anaconda)

The tallest brick structure is the Anaconda Smelter Stack, an industrial chimney built by the Anaconda Copper Mining Company near Anaconda, Montana, USA. The brick smokestack stands 169.2 m (555 ft) tall – 178.38 m (585 ft 1.5 in) including its concrete foundation pedestal – and is 26.2 m (86 ft) wide at its base. It was completed on 1 December 1918 as part of the vast Anaconda Reduction Works (also known as the Washoe Smelter).

The Anaconda Smelter Stack was operational from May 1919 until 1980, when the Washoe Smelter was permanently closed. It was built from 2,446,392 bricks and was designed to handle an estimated 3 million cubic feet of exhaust gases per minute from around the site (which burned several hundred tons of coal per day).

The stack's designers chose to use a single giant chimney for the entire Washoe Smelter complex, which had dozens of furnaces and ore crushers, as well as power stations, factories and even its own fire department. The original plans called for the stack to be 160 m (525 ft) tall, but this was revised upwards when word reached Anaconda of larger smokestacks under construction elsewhere.

Gases were transported to the chimney through a vast network of flues, and then filtered through chambers filled with electrified chains. These used electrostatic attraction to filter some of the more harmful particulates (principally arsenic) from the smoke. The previous smokestacks on site had no filtration, resulting in the emission of an estimated 20 tons of arsenic particulates per day, which sickened the local population and killed livestock.

In 1983, the Washoe Smelter complex was placed under the management of the Environmental Protection Agency and designated a superfund site. Over the years, extremely high concentrations of poisonous heavy metals – including arsenic, lead, copper, cadmium, zinc and beryllium – seeped into the structures and the soil beneath them.

The entire complex, as well as portions of the surrounding settlement, were razed to the ground by the EPA, as they were contaminated beyond recovery. The Anaconda Smelter Stack was saved from the same fate by a local campaign to have it designated as a historic landmark. It is today the centrepiece of the Anaconda Smelter Stack State Park, though visitors can only gaze at it from a distance as the surrounding area is still too toxic for people to enter safely.