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Three Copper Kings of Butte: Rivalry, Riches and Revolution

The Fight for the Future

Butte's three Copper Kings sit side by side.

Butte, Montana, once the Richest Hill on Earth, owes much of its storied past to the three Copper Kings, William A. Clark, Marcus Daly and F. Augustus Heinze. These industrial titans fiercely competed over copper, shaping our economic and social landscape in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

William A. Clark: The Wealthiest Man of the Gilded Age

William Andrews Clark transitioned from gold to copper mining during Montana’s gold rush, amassing immense wealth through mining, banking and railroads. A powerful businessman and U.S. Senator, Clark’s influence extended far beyond Butte, even though his Columbia Gardens amusement park gave everyone a reason to stay. Towns like Clarkdale, Arizona and Clark County, Nevada are named after Clark and his mining efforts. Addicted to the finer things in life, he spent his last days in his New York mansion on Fifth Avenue.

Marcus Daly: The Irish Immigrant Who Built an Empire

Irish-born Marcus Daly became a key figure in Butte’s mining scene in the 1870s. Leading the Anaconda Copper Mining Company, Daly’s strategic acquisition and development of the Anaconda mine turned it into one of the world’s largest copper producers. Known for his investments in smelting facilities and improved working conditions for miners, Daly’s contributions significantly boosted Butte’s growth. Montana Tech, the local Butte college, has a statue of Marcus Daly at the entrance of their campus honoring his work that put people over profit.

F. Augustus Heinze: The FORGOTTEN COPPER KING

Fritz Augustus Heinze, a young engineer from Brooklyn, was 19 when he arrived in Butte in the late 19th century. Heinze’s innovative mining techniques and aggressive legal strategies allowed him to compete effectively with Clark and Daly. His use of the Apex Law to claim ore bodies led to numerous high-stakes courtroom battles, highlighting his relentless pursuit of success. By 1906, he too was tired of the Butte battles and left for New York where he passed in 1914.

The Battle for Butte: Competition and Consequence

The rivalry between Clark, Daly and Heinze was intense and often ruthless, spurring technological advancements and economic growth that transformed Butte into a bustling metropolis. Their ambitions and battles put Butte on the map, making it a symbol of the transformative power of industry.

Butte’s Copper Kings paved the way for those who continue to push forward. Clark, Daly and Heinze all knew that it takes raw effort, hard work and a willingness to risk it all to be a Modern Maverick of their time.

We take extra care with our Copper King Whiskey Collection, with every special barrel finish proving that it isn’t how you start, but how you finish. Hand-crafted in honor of history, Butte Mavericks get shit done.


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