Two Vietnamese men buy entire US’ Wyoming town for $900,000

Monday, 16 April 2012 00:04 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

A town advertised as the smallest in the United States has been sold at auction for $900,000.

Buford, Wyoming, is located between Cheyenne and Laramie in southeast Wyoming.  Two unidentified Vietnamese men placed the winning bid for the town last week during the 11-minute auction.

As owners of the town along Interstate 80, they will get a gas station and convenience store, a schoolhouse from 1905, a cabin, a garage, 10 acres of land, and a three-bedroom home. Auction officials said people from 110 countries around the world were registered to watch the live auction online, although it wasn’t immediately clear how many of them had submitted bids.

The winning bidders flew to Wyoming and bid in person after reading about the town online. They were whisked away by auction officials after their win and have yet to speak to the media.

The town of Buford has had just one inhabitant, Don Sammons.

He plans to retire from his unofficial title as ‘mayor’ of the unincorporated community and managing his businesses, and move on.

The minimum bid for Buford, 10-plus acres with a convenience store-cum-gas station situated between the capital city of Cheyenne and Laramie, Wyoming, was $100,000 for the sale, which took place in town at noon local time.

Buford is one of two tiny Western towns to be sold by owners whose spouses have died and whose adult children have moved on.

Pray, Montana, population 8, is on the market for $1.4 million, a price realtors say is a steal for property just north of Yellowstone National Park in the scenic Paradise Valley.

Both communities sprang to life amid Western settlement in the late 19th and early 20th centuries when railroads brought people, supplies and prosperity to frontier towns, some of which failed to flourish despite hype by land speculators.

Don Sammons and his wife, Terry, set out from Los Angeles to a ranch near Buford in 1980 seeking a relaxed rural lifestyle.

The couple drove into the high-elevation town – then owned by an elderly rancher – in a lipstick-red Lincoln Continental. The vehicle, ill-suited to the area’s deep snows and high winds, led locals to surmise Sammons would leave within six months.

More than three decades later, Sammons is finally leaving and it is a departure attended as much by anticipation as sadness, he said.

The 61-year-old mayor, owner and sole inhabitant of Buford intends to move to Colorado’s Front Range to live near his son.

The home of a one-time military fort designed to protect the building of the transcontinental railroad, the site in the 1860s could boast as many as 2,000 residents.

The population dwindled when the fort moved to Laramie and the county seat changed from Buford to Cheyenne.

Today, Buford – named after Civil War general and Union Army legend John Buford – is better known for its sale than its existence.

Barbara Walker, 52, is selling the structures and land that make up Pray, Montana, a five-acre town with a commercial building, trailer court and post office set against the backdrop of the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness.

The area, known as Paradise Valley, once was home to cattle ranchers whose landholdings have since been carved into exclusive developments where celebrity neighbors include actor Jeff Bridges.

Pray, named for a Montana congressman, Charles N. Pray, was purchased by the family of Walker’s late husband in 1953.