Buford, Wyo.: America's Smallest Town Up for Auction
Why own a house when you can own a town? Granted, it's the nation's smallest town, and it only has one resident, but nonetheless, Buford, Wyo., can be yours on April 5 when it goes up for auction.
The opening bid for the town is $100,000 and the sale will include five buildings: a three-bedroom home, a 1905 schoolhouse that has been used as an office, a garage, a 1900s cabin used as a tool shed, and the Buford Trading Post, which is a convenience store and gasoline station. Also included in the sale are 10 acres of land, a collection of U.S. Post Office boxes, and a Union Wireless cellular tower with lease.
Though Don Sammons (pictured above), the town's mayor and sole resident, says that he's enjoyed living in Buford for over three decades (he moved to Buford with his wife in 1980), he's putting the town up for auction this Thursday because he's ready to move on. Particularly in light of his wife's death several years ago and his now-adult son moving out, Sammons says it's time to leave the world's smallest town behind.
"It is a sad day, but it also will be a very interesting day and a new chapter in my life," Sammons tells the Wyoming News. "I'm ready for it."
And undoubtedly, there's someone out there ready to be Buford's newest owner. Though it's tiny, the town, which sits at an elevation of 8,000 feet and is the highest town along Interstate 80 between New York and California, offers impressive views of the Rocky Mountains.
Views aside, it's steeped in history. It's Wyoming's second-oldest town, with its origins tracing to the 1860s, when it was the site of a fort to protect workers building the Transcontinental Railroad. It was named after a Civil War general, and once attracted guests ranging from President Ulysses S. Grant to Butch Cassidy.
"Buford is a business opportunity and has a romantic lifestyle -- of growing a town," says auctioneer Amy Bates, of auction company Williams & Williams, who predicts: "We're going to have a variety of people attracted [to the town] based on what it would mean to them."
Still think the concept of "buying a town" is crazy talk? It's actually a lot more common than you may think.
Pray, Mont., whose population consists entirely of 8 people and 12 dogs, was listed for $1.4 million last month. It's in a similarly picturesque location, 30 miles north of Yellowstone National Park's only year-round entrance. The town includes a trailer park, a photography studio, abandoned historic buildings and a post office, and comprises five acres.
Then there's Scenic, S.D., which was bought by a Filipino church, Iglesia Ni Cristo, for $800,000 last fall.
And who could forget the sale of Wauconda, Wash., to the "Love couple" (Maddie and Neil Love, from Bothell, Wash.) for $360,000 in 2010? And then, of course there's Braselton, Ga., which was bought by actress Kim Basinger for a much heftier $20 million (though her dream of turning the town into a hub for the film community was dashed by bankruptcy).
Buford will join the club this Thursday at noon when it hits the auction block. The auction will take bidders from those at the site as well as those who bid online at http://auctionnetwork.com.
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