In most cities around the country, a half million dollars will get you a modest four-bedroom house, but in South Dakota, you can nab yourself a small town for the same price and still have cash to spare. The tiny unincorporated settlement of Swett, South Dakota is on sale for $400,000, according to the Rapid City Journal, by its sole owner. that price tag includes 6.6 acres of land, plus all of the property in the town limits — that is, a workshop, three trailers, a house and the local tavern.
“I hate to get rid of it,” says Lance Benson, who owns all of Swett. “If I don’t sell it, if I don’t sell it this first year, I would probably keep it.”
Swett has seen its fortunes decline precipitously over the last 70 years. It was never a bustling metropolis, but it did have a heyday. In the 1940s, it was home to a grocery store, a post office, and respectable population of around 40 people. But over the years, as with many rural towns, its residents slowly began migrating to nearby cities. Ownership of the town became gradually concentrated until it was owned by a single person; Benson bought it in 1998, then signed it over to his ex-wife in a divorce, then reclaimed it in 2012. Now, he and his new wife are the town’s only two residents (three if you include Daisy, the couple’s Rottweiler mix).
“This place is pretty much where the highway ends and the Wild West begins,” local Gerry Runnels told the Journal.
The main attraction here seems to be the Swett Tavern, the only bar within 10 miles. It has a Western aesthetic and still attracts a loyal crowd; Rennels himself to be a third-generation patron of the bar, and says that under the ownership of Benson, it’s transformed from a rough-and-tumble watering hole — “a good place to be killed,” as one customer described it — to “a place where you can come in and have a meal with your family.” Presumably, the opportunity to own this unheralded but long-standing piece of Americana is one of the main appeals of purchasing the town.
While $400,000 may sound like a lot of money for a bar and a couple of run-down buildings in the middle of nowhere, it’s still a pretty cheap price for literally owning your own town.
Image: Coldwell Banker