Tomorrow, April 5, 2012, at noon Wyoming time, you have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: you can buy yourself a town. The whole town of Buford, Wyoming, is going up on the auction block.
Buford, Wyoming is located on Interstate 80 between Laramie and Cheynenne, as seen in the map above. It measures only 10 acres, or about two hundredths of a square mile. According to the Wyoming News, the community was founded in 1866, serving as a temporary home base for roughly 2,000 railroad workers as they laid tracks in the area. Soon after, Buford played host to President Ulysses S. Grant, who visited in 1869, and famed outlaw Butch Cassidy, who robbed a store there sometime in the 1880s. In 1880, the community got its own post office — today, it is zip code 82052 and is still in use. But by and large, Buford peaked around that time. As the railroad moved westward, so did the workers, and therefore, so did Buford’s population.
A century after the Buford post office opened its doors, a man named Don Sammons and his family moved to Buford. At some point, Sammons took over the Buford Trading Post, a general store which, according to TIME, does good business, with 1,000 or so customers daily. What was attracting all these people to this tiny little shop? I-80 gets a lot of traffic, yes, but tourists were stopping in Buford to experience the town’s unique claim: it was the town with the population of 1. It seems that in 2008, Sammons’ son moved out, leaving Sammons himself as the town’s only resident. And the shoppers were coming to see it for themselves.
Sammons, now in his sixties, has decided to retire and leave Buford. (He hasn’t stated where he’s going.) But rather than abandon it, Sammons is putting the town up for auction. The highest bidder will receive all ten acres of Buford, including the convenience store, a gas station, a house, cabin, a small schoolhouse, and some vehicles. And of course, the winner may assume the title of mayor, which Sammons is relinquishing.
Want to bid? The minimum price is $100,000 and you can bid online. The auction house claims that this is the first time anyone’s sold an entire town this way, and we tend to believe them.
Bonus fact: The J.W. Wescott II (Wikipedia entry here) is a boat operating out of Detroit, Michigan, which delivers mail to other boats in the Great Lakes and Detroit River. It is the only floating post office in the world.
From the Archives: Manslaughter in Moriusaq: A town of four people. No, wait: make that three.