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Buford, WY was auctioned off by owner Don Sammons, who was the town's famously lone resident.

 

The Buford Trading Post in tiny Buford, WY sells Coca-Cola, hot dogs and Marlboro cigarettes. The question now is whether the smallest town in America will be serving Pho.

That’s because the new owners of Buford, about 25 miles out of Cheyenne along I-80, was snapped up Thursday by two mysterious buyers from Vietnam, instantly doubling the town’s population and putting a fresh twist on town ownership in the Wild West.

About 10 interested parties were in the bidding for Buford on Thursday at the Buford Trading Post, but after 15 minutes of escalating bids starting at $100,000, the gavel was slammed down with a resounding “Sold!” as a pair of Vietnamese men whose first and only trip to the U.S. was specifically to land this uniquely American town.

“The buyer and his friend were very excited and very curious about the process. They flew in a few days ago and had never been to the U.S. before, so Wyoming was their first destination,” said Tonjah Andrews, an agent with Al-Rose Auction & Realty who was at the Buford Trading Post to support to her boss, broker Rozetta Weston of Al-Rose Auction & Realty in Cheyenne.

She said the buyers seemed like very nice people whose purchase proved something pretty universal:  “It’s the dream of owning your own land. It’s the international dream. It’s everyone’s dream, not exclusive to Americans,”  Andrews said.

Buford — with its own ZIP code and which had a population of 1 — was put up for auction by owner Don Sammons. The 61-year-old moved to Buford in 1980 and in 1992 bought the 10-acre town, along with and the Buford Trading Post and gas station. But with the death of his wife in 1995, Sammons  made the tough decision to move away and be closer to his son.

So, with the help of real estate auction leader Williams & Williams, Sammons watched with teary eyes as the opening bid of $100,000 quickly climbed to $900,000. He said he’s ready to move to his new home in Colorado, where he plans to write a book about his 32 years in Buford.

But what’s ahead for his town remains a little bit of a mystery.

Andrews said that the buyer’s plan is a “work in progress,” with details to work out. But the lack of a plan did not detract from their dream of owning their own American town.

“They heard about the auction. They decided ‘let’s try. Let’s fly over and see what happens.’ What they’ve done proves that it appeals to everyone to live in their own ZIP code. They made history,”  she said.

They buyers may have made history, but Sammons has a week to decide whether to accept the highest bid. The buyers, in the meantime, are expected to return to  Vietnam.

 

 

About the Author

Laura Vecsey is a former sports columnist, news reporter and politics writer and has worked for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Baltimore Sun, Albany (N.Y.) Times-Union and Harrisburg Patriot-News. She was also a regional editor with Examiner.com. She is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College.

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