The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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US town finds buyer on the Net

Bridgeville (California), Dec. 28: Is it a California dream or a buyer’s nightmare'

A Southern California businessman offered the high bid of $1.77 million for Bridgeville, a hard-luck hamlet deep in the foggy forests of Humboldt County in far Northern California, marking the first time an entire town has gone for sale on eBay.

The seller and mystery buyer — who has asked to remain anonymous for now — must still enter into a contract, leaving both parties plenty of chances to back out. “He wants to renovate the entire town,” said a delighted Elizabeth Lapple, who owns Bridgeville with her brother Edward. “Can he still back out' Sure. Is it likely' No way.”

Whatever happens, the novel online auction triggered plenty of buzz: Offers flew in from around the globe.

So did hare-brained schemes, like the one from the Texan to turn the town into a brothel. Local realtors scoffed as bids on the 82 acres spiraled to more than double the asking price. The Today show went live at 4.30 am from the little town’s pale blue post office — its only going concern. And in a driving rainstorm, the 20 or so residents left in this has-been timber town started dreaming of better days.

There are no grocery stores, no restaurants, no saloons, no libraries and no gas stations. Houses, some utterly wrecked, others badly battered, line up in sad formation on muddy hillsides, while others lie boarded up alongside the burbling Van Duzen River.

Pitched on eBay as a promising would-be resort, escape or tax shelter, the town also includes a cemetery, historic bridge, and backhoe — for all the many fix-it tasks that lie ahead.

“If they want to make it a town again or a trailer park, people here will be jumping up and down to help,” said Jessie Wheeler, 59, whose grandparents bought the town in 1912. “This used to be a Norman Rockwell town. We have hit bottom and there is nowhere to go but up.”

Wheeler’s one hope is that the townspeople at least be considered for a spot in the “new” Bridgeville, but even she concedes that “if they tore down the houses and ran cattle in here it would be better”. Wanda Adams, 52, who wandered into the post office from the torrential rain to get her mail, agreed: “Bridgeville needs some new money, some new infusion of energy... things can’t get any worse.”

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