Segments in this Video

War of the Copper Kings: Introduction (01:07)


In the 1880s, Marcus Daly struck a motherlode in Butte, Montana. His rivalry with tycoon William Andrews Clark was widely publicized.

California Gold Rush (02:55)

Copper powers modern civilization. In the Rocky Mountain West, two men controlled national copper production and fought for nearly 25 years. The 1849 California Gold Rush boosted the national economy and inspired prospecting.

Montana Gold Rush (02:49)

Boom towns like Bannock, Virginia City, and Butte formed near creeks containing placer gold. William Andrews Clark was among the first prospectors. He started panning in 1863 at age 24 and soon became a merchant; learn about his ambitions.

Building a Business Empire (01:55)

Clark invested in a wagon and brought in eggs from Salt Lake City to sell to miners. With the profits, he opened a bank. In the late 1860s, gold began to run out; he bought spent mines at a discount.

Acquiring Travona (02:37)

William Farlin bought a silver mine outside Butte and approached Clark about a loan for an ore mill. Clark demanded the mine as collateral, promising Farlin business at his ore mill. Clark did not send ore and Farlin defaulted on the loan.

Marcus Daly (02:40)

Rocky Mountain gold fields proved richer than California. Marcus Daly was skilled at knowing where to dig for silver; he immigrated from Ireland. In 1862, Daly came to the Comstock Mines and partnered with George Hearst.

Ontario Mine (02:07)

Hearst invested in a silver claim outside Salt Lake City that prospered under Daly's management. In 1876, Clark foreclosed on the Travona Mine and Daly came to Butte to assess the Rainbow Lode for the Walker Brothers.

Alice Mine (01:25)

Following Daly's advice, the Walker Brothers bought a claim on the Rainbow Lode and gave him a share. Clark owned a neighboring claim, and dug tunnels to flood Daly’s mine. Daly installed pumps and continued production.

Anaconda Mine (03:19)

Daly's instincts told him a small silver mine contained precious metal. He bought it and approached Hearst about capital for equipment. Clark tried to undermine Daly but Hearst ignored him and invested in the Anaconda.

New Source of Wealth (03:06)

Daly's men found little silver in the Anaconda Mine, to Clark’s satisfaction. Finally, they found copper ore at 300 feet. Demand for copper was growing rapidly due to electricity and communications innovations.

Copper Boom (03:14)

Daly's Anaconda Mine responded to new utility and communications demands. Despite occupational hazards, Daly and Clark competed for workers and Butte's population skyrocketed. Learn about its saloons and brothels.

Mining Rivalry (03:12)

During Butte's copper boom, Clark began tapping his silver mines for copper. In 1883, Daly proposed Clark build a smelter town named Anaconda near Butte. In 1888, Daly's smelter was destroyed in a fire; some suspected Clark's involvement.

Living like Kings (03:08)

Copper from Daly's and Clark's mines powered America's electrical and telephone systems. After a suspicious fire destroyed Daly's smelter, he built a fireproof version. He also constructed an estate in Hamilton. Tour Clark’s Butte mansion.

Running for Congress (02:01)

In 1888, Clark campaigned to represent Montana as a Democrat. Daly supported his Republican opponent and controlled Anaconda workers' ballots; Clark lost by 5,000 votes. In 1893, Clark ran for Senate and Daly stopped him again.

Clark's Revenge (02:50)

In 1894, Daly launched a campaign to move Montana's state capital from Helena to Anaconda. Clark used his money to oppose the move and narrowly won. In 1898, he ran for Montana Senate and bribed voters; Daly offered counter-bribes.

Entering Politics (02:24)

In 1899, Clark and Daly battled to buy votes for a Montana Senate seat. Clark won, gaining revenge on his rival. Daly secretly sold the Anaconda Company to the Rockefeller Family and Standard Oil for $39 million. Locals in Butte worried about their future.

Copper King Legacy (03:40)

Daly died in 1900, but the Anaconda Company remained productive for decades. Clark's Senate career was short lived; he died in 1928. Butte suffered economically and became an environmental wasteland, but Clark and Daly represented the American Dream.

Credits: War of the Copper Kings (00:60)

Credits: War of the Copper Kings

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War of the Copper Kings

Part of the Series : Empires Of Industry
DVD (Chaptered) Price: $169.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $254.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



More than a century ago, two men controlled nearly all of U.S. copper production. This documentary tells the story of a 25 year long rivalry of egos and empires that shaped Montana’s economy and politics. Gold prospector turned investor William Andrews Clark was an ambitious businessman. Irish immigrant Marcus Daly had a “nose” for silver veins and built the Anaconda Mining Company, the most productive copper claim in the nation. At the height of the copper boom fueling America’s electricity and communications revolution, these two men used corruption and sabotage in their battle to out-do one another and control the industry.

Length: 47 minutes

Item#: BVL130761

Copyright date: ©2001

Closed Captioned

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Only available in USA and Canada.