Wyoming town - population 1 - sells for $900,000 to Vietnamese buyer

SALMON, Idaho Thu Apr 5, 2012 10:23pm EDT

1 of 3. A sign showing town owner Don Sammons is seen on a road in Buford, Wyoming in this undated handout photo supplied by Williams & Williams Real Estate Auction April 4, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Williams&Williams/Handout

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SALMON, Idaho (Reuters) - The town of Buford, Wyoming - population 1 - was sold for $900,000 to an unidentified buyer from Vietnam on Thursday after an 11-minute Internet auction that attracted worldwide interest.

The tiny Western town garnered online viewers and bidders from 46 countries for the sale of 10-plus acres with a convenience store, gas station and modular home located in southeastern Wyoming between Cheyenne and Laramie.

The buyer, who wished to remain anonymous, flew to Wyoming from Vietnam for a purchase he likened to "the American dream," according to a statement released by Williams & Williams, the Oklahoma auction house handling the sale.

"Owning a piece of property in the U.S. has been my dream," the buyer said in the statement.

Don Sammons, long the town's sole resident, moved with his wife, Terry, from Los Angeles to the Buford area in 1980. In 1992, six years after his wife died, Sammons purchased the town.

Sammons decided to auction off the Interstate 80 hamlet, billed as "the nation's smallest town" and named after Civil War Union Army General John Buford, to move to Colorado to be near his adult son.

"My family is gone. Our purpose for moving here has kind of been completed, and now I want to find out what other adventures I have in store," Sammons, 61, told Reuters in an interview.

Speaking before the sale, which was broadcast online, an executive with Williams & Williams said the firm had never seen the level of buzz that attended the Buford auction.

"Auctions always bring a lot of attention, but even we were amazed at the amount of attention to Buford worldwide," said Amy Bates, chief marketing officer for Williams & Williams. "It's the Wild West in the U.S. It's owning your town and getting away from it all."

The high-elevation town sprang to life in the 1860s as a military outpost amid construction of the transcontinental railroad.

Buford's population dwindled when the fort moved to Laramie and the county seat was shifted from Buford to Cheyenne. For some decades, Buford remained a central point for outlying ranches.

The settlement is one of two tiny Western towns recently put up for sale by owners whose spouses have died and whose grown children live elsewhere.

Pray, Montana, population 8, has been placed on the market for $1.4 million by owner Barbara Walker, 52. The town had been in the family of her late husband since 1953.

The 5-acre town sits in the Paradise Valley near Yellowstone National Park, a scenic, mountainous area home to celebrities like Jeff Bridges.

(Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Cynthia Johnston; Desking by Cynthia Osterman)

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