Purchasing a town that comes with your own little cottage, personal amenities, and its very own zip code might seem like a fairytale story, but a couple purchased such a town in the US state of Washington. One of the owners, Maddie Love, said, “You can look up and see the Milky Way. It’s God’s country.” The town they purchased is Wauconda, a small, unincorporated community in Washington State, US.
Wauconda was established by three mining brothers in 1898. The brothers realized that the area was rich in gold and decided to build a mining community there. They named it after their hometown, Wauconda, Illinois.
In 1898, the Hedge brothers discovered a valley of gold and laid claim to it. They decided to build a mining community in the newly discovered valley and named it after their original hometown, Wauconda in Illinois. The discovery of gold during that time was an attraction for other people, and soon the Hedge brothers had people coming in and settling as part of their mining community. Almost 300 people came from different places and settled along with the Hedge family.
By the early 1900s, the output from the mines declined, and they had to be shut down. The town turned into a ranching and farming community. In 1929, State Highway 20 was built by the authorities that bypassed Wauconda. Because of this, the town had to be relocated. The town was relocated twice before it reached its current location.
By 1900, the town got its first general store. But by 1901, the good-quality ore was over and the town was shifted three miles from its original location. There was a post office in the new location that became the post office for the town with the zip code 98859. In 1914, the Wauconda Community Hall was built at the second location. There was also a school, four saloons, and hotels.
In 1929, Highway 20 was built by state authorities that bypassed the town. So, the town was shifted again in 1936 to its current location, i.e., at the junction of the State Highway 20 and the Toroda Creek Road. At its peak, Wauconda had around 1,000 residents.
After the mines were shut down, Wauconda became more of a ranching community than a mining community. The mines died off in the 1900s, and the people turned to other occupations such as farming and ranching. One ranch was owned by the Tomason family for more than 100 years. Another striking feature of Wauconda is the Pflug Mansion. The mansion was the home of John and Anna Pflug. They were German immigrants who started building their dream home in 1908, but they struggled with funds and decided to do everything themselves, including hauling lumber from a mill 10 miles away in a wagon. They were unable to complete their home and abandoned it in 1921. Today, it sits as a popular roadside attraction.
Daphne Fletcher purchased the four-acre town in 2007 for $180,810 with her mother, Judy Fletcher. She managed the property and grossed $300,000 a year from the gas station, general store, and the restaurant, but she was stressed with all the work and decided to put the town up for sale in 2010 on eBay.
Daphne Fletcher was working in Seattle as a website designer and a local sales girl as her day job when she met the then owners of Wauconda on her route. They got acquainted and the owners expressed their interest in selling their town. Daphne was intrigued at the idea of having her own town and purchased the town, with her mother Judy as a partner, for $180,810.
During the initial days, Daphne’s brother, Tim Fletcher, moved to Wauconda to help his sister get the town ready, but the area was too rural for him and he moved away leaving his sister alone to manage the property. Daphne had employees to take care of the restaurant, gas station, and store, but she was too stressed. So, she and her mother decided to put the town up for sale on eBay. Their first listing went unnoticed, but the second listing they put up caught the eyes of CNN and went viral.
The eBay listing looked like this:
“Why buy a house when you can OWN YOUR OWN TOWN! Own the Post Office, OWN YOUR OWN ZIP CODE … Single owner is tired and ready to retire … VERY LOW RESERVE PRICE OF $359,000 … Please bid only if you will honor it. …”
The listing received 112 bids with the highest bid $370,601.
The listing received the highest bid of $370,601 from David Broadbent. But Broadbent did not go through with the payment making Maddie and Neal Love the new owners of the town with their personal zip code 98859. The couple, however, soon closed shop and moved to North Dakota.
Daphne’s eBay listing received 112 bids with the highest bid $370,601 by David Broadbent. Broadbent was from Melbourne, Australia, and he had to pay a down payment of 5% to seal the deal with Daphne, but he changed his mind at the last moment.
Daphne went through the list of bidders and was disappointed when none of the top five bidders responded. Then she got the call from Maddie and Neal Love. The couple couldn’t believe that the town was up for auction again, and they immediately sealed the deal with Daphne.
The Loves purchased the four-acre Wauconda from Daphne Fletcher for $360,000. Daphne received $1,000 more than her asking price. The whole package included a restaurant, a post office, a gas station, a four-bedroom apartment, and their very own postal code – 98859. The couple sold everything they owned and put their money into the town. They planned to make Wauconda their permanent home.
But things didn’t quite work out for them. They were ready to sell Wauconda again as Neal had got a steady, secure, and high-paying job in North Dakota, something that Wauconda was unable to provide the couple with. As of 2015, the town is again up for sale.
Wauconda is not the first or the only town to be sold on eBay. Bridgeville, in California, was sold for $1.78 million on eBay, but the deal didn’t go through. On the other hand, Albert, Texas was bought by an Italian for $3.8 million, all through eBay.
Bridgeville, California became the first town to be put up on auction on eBay in 2002. The listing described the 83-acre town as a fixer-upper that comes with a post office, riverbank that stretches a mile and a half, a cemetery, and 12+ cabins and rental houses. This auction gained momentum worldwide and received around 250 bids. Finally, it was sold to an anonymous highest bidder for $1,777,877. However, the deal didn’t go through and the town was purchased for $700,000 by Bruce Krall, a businessman.
Similarly, the town of Albert in Texas was sold for almost $2.06 million on eBay. The asking price was $2.5 million.