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More prosperous times
Maybe you've heard by now that the entire town/unincorporated community of Buford, Wyoming, will be put on the auction block next month, at a beginning price of $100,000. Its sole remaining occupant and "mayor," 60-year-old Don Sammons, has decided to retire and is looking to hawk all of the town's profitable entities, including the Buford Trading Post (consisting of a gas station and convenience store), U.S. post office boxes, a Union Wireless cellular tower, ten acres of land, a 1905 schoolhouse, and a three-bedroom home. The purchaser of the former railroad destination will also get his or her own zip code, 82052.

I visited Buford in 2008 when I trekked to the country's least-populated state for a childhood friend's wedding. He and his fiancee at the time were attending the University of Wyoming and living in the charmingly slow-moving Laramie. After crashing there for a couple of days, we made our way to Cheyenne where the wedding was being held. Not halfway into the 45-minute drive, we were baited to Buford by a sign off the highway that read "Buford, Pop. 1, Elev. 8000." Sold, I'm stopping.

The town made no real lasting impression, other than the aforementioned sign and peculiar Tree Rock—yes, there's a preserved pine tree growing out of a rock between the east and west lanes of I-80. (I fell in love with Wyoming at the exact moment I saw the Tree Rock and read on the roadside marker, "The tree grows out of a crack in a boulder of Precambrian-era pink Sherman granite formed more than 1-4 billion years ago."). I did, however, buy a Wyoming magnet and beer koozie from the trading post, because I would've been overrun with guilt had I not supported Sammons—how was he supposed to garner funds for his reelection or throw an incredible solo celebration for Buford's upcoming 150-year anniversary without a little coin?

Now that I think about it, maybe the gimmick is worth the $100,000. Tree rocks, kitschy magnets, and pity can be a pretty wicked combo.

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