Tourists take selfies at Buford town sign that states pop 1

Lonely place: Buford is officially America’s smallest town, with a population of just one person, but about 1000 visitors a day make a stop-over there to take selfies.

Lonely place: Buford is officially America’s smallest town, with a population of just one person, but about 1000 visitors a day make a stop-over there to take selfies.

Remember the days when settlements around the world used to have big, bold and brassy signs next to roads leading into the city, town or hamlet.

And they would proudly display their populations.

Cooma in the south of New South Wales proclaimed it was the “Gateway to the Snowy Mountains”.

Rothenberg ob der Tauber in Germany was the “Heart of the Romantic Way” ... or least the Deutsch wording of that title.

Nottingham in England was of course, “Robin Hood Country”, even though the daring outlaw was not a resident.

No one can quibble with the boast of Buford in the American state of Wyoming. The sign erected by the state authorities leading into the town tells us it has a population on one – making it officially the smallest town in the USA, and in fact the world.

Despite this, Buford has a general store that deals with crowds reaching a thousand or more a day.

Gas 'n' go: The Buford Trading Post is the only business in town, the whole of which cost its Vietnamese owners US$900,000 five years ago.

Gas 'n' go: The Buford Trading Post is the only business in town, the whole of which cost its Vietnamese owners US$900,000 five years ago.

Buford sits 2400m high - that’s higher than Mt Kosciuszko - in the mountains between the famous western towns of Laramie and Cheyenne.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Buford was owned by a rail company, during the building of America’s first transcontinental railway. In those days it had a population of more than 2000.

Once the work was completed the town slowly died and, in 1992, its only resident bought what was left – a convenience store and gas station; a circa 1905 schoolhouse; a 1900s cabin; a later era three bedroom home; a parking lot, and a bank of post office boxes for “locals” scattered throughout the surrounding mountains.

Twenty years later, in 2012, that owner put the whole town to auction again. 

Two Vietnamese businessmen made a successful $900,000 bid against hopefuls from 46 countries who all had one thing in mind – they wanted to own their own town.

The duo spruced up the general store, started importing Vietnamese coffee, and not only created a highly successful coffee-stop for Interstate 80 drivers, but actually re-named the town PhinDeli Town Buford, after one of their coffees.

These days neither owner lives there. Their one-man trading post is run on their behalf and sells coffee, snacks, convenience items, and fuel, to some 1000 motorists a day in summer, and 100 or so a day in the freezing winter months.

Of course, tourists don’t just visit Buford for the obligatory selfies. They take in nearby attractions.

Cheyenne draws thousands of travellers lured by the locals who boast it was where the likes of western legends such as Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane once resided. The folk of Cheyenne will repeat all the legends about them, most of which are fictitious and made-up by the pair.

And who are we to spoil the yarns?

You can discover more about Buford and picturesque Wyoming at travelwyoming.com

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