The Conda Bus
In 1918, The Anaconda Copper Mining Co. of Butte Montana
purchased a number of mining claims near Soda Springs at a cost of
$650,000. These properties were located in one of the richest phosphate
rock areas known at that time. These properties were comprised of a
sheep ranch owned by Charles Stiles, and 3,500 acres of claims held by a
prospector named Shields who had located phosphate outcrops in the hills
surrounding the Stiles' ranch. These holdings enabled the Anaconda
Copper Mining Co. to diversify from the production of copper and enter
into the phosphate business.
A company-owned town known as CONDA was built at
the location of the mines. The Union Pacific Railroad built a
branch line to serve the community. The Company began an
underground tunnel to mine the phosphate. A mill and other
facilities were constructed to process the rock for shipment to
Montana where it was processed into fertilizer. The Anaconda
Company soon became one of the world's largest producers of
That is how the town of CONDA was born. CONDA was a
nice little community resting in the hills eight miles northeast
of Soda Springs. Roughly three hundred people lived there. Houses
were built and the site developed by the Company. There were eventually
82 homes constructed for the employees. All profits from the store were rebated
back to the employees every six months, based on a percentage of their
pruchases. The homes rented for $12.00 a month and included water sufficient
for domestic use, including lawns and gardens. Electric power and fuel were
supplied at cost. The houses and their well-kept yards and gardens were a thing
of beauty. Two times a week, free movies were shown twice daily so shift workers
would have an opportunity to attend. A church house was later provided by
Since CONDA came into existence before there was road equipment to maintain roads
in the winter, the roads were always impassable for several months in the winter. The only
means of transportation between CONDA and Soda Springs was by rail. The Company
purchased the Rail Bus, located here, as a means of transportation. The Company furnished
an operator, and employees were allowed to ride to Soda Springs to conduct business or make purchases
of items not available at the store. In emergencies, cars were driven on the railroad bed into
Soda Springs. The Bus, as it was simply called by CONDA residents, received very little use
after the County and State acquired snow plows and equipment which were able to keep the roads open all winter. Many current residents of Soda Springs had ties to the CONDA
Operation and rode this bus either as residents or workers.
The original mine at CONDA operated as an underground tunnel mine. The development
of large-scale mining equipment made underground operations no longer economically
feasible, and strip mining took its place.
In 1959, the Anaconda Company sold the CONDA operation to the J. R. Simplot Co.
This was a strip mining operation which needed fewer employees, so the
population of CONDA declined.
In 1984, the town was closed and is no longer in existence. The Bus remained in
storage at CONDA until the 1960's when the Willard Poulsen family obtained it
from the J. R. Simplot Co. The Bus was moved tot he golf course and painted red.
In 1983 the Poulsen family gave the Bus t the City of Soda Springs, and it was
placed in this location. In 1998 it was restored, and the canopy was created to help
protect it from the weather. Restoration funds came from numerous organizations
and individuals listed on a brass plaque inside the Bus. The restored Bus you are
viewing is one of the few remnants of a once thriving community.