The Nation's Smallest Town and Highest Point on I-80

Buford Trading Post
Buford, Wyoming

Buford Trading Post Buford Wyoming

Buford, Wyoming is for Sale

August 19th, 2011

Own Your Own Town!  

Don, “The Mayor”, is retiring after 20 wonderful years in his town.  This entire, income producing, town is for sale; the house, the Trading Post, the former school house, along with all the history of this very unique place. 

If you are interested, please contact Don directly at [email protected].

Buford on Wyoming’s K2 News

August 17th, 2011

Lone Resident Speaks About Nations Smallest Town by Jeff Schuman K2 News

“You don’t move to Buford, Wyoming by accident – you have to want to be here.” – Don Sammons

The second oldest town in Wyoming still brings visitors from around the world:

Sole Proprietor

August 16th, 2011

by Jerry Soverinksy 

Buford Population 1 signNo schools, no foot traffic and no local word of mouth – yet the Buford Trading Post has survived, and during some years even flourished, with just one full-time employee. That employee: the owner and the town’s lone resident – a dedicated industry professional whose business acumen is every bit as sophisticated as those running the largest convenience store chains.

Welcome to Buford, Wyoming, population 1. And meet Don Sammons, the town’s only resident and the owner of the Buford Trading Post convenience store and gas station.

“From Buford, the nearest business is, oh, 25 miles away,” said Sammons, a 60-something St. Louis native who made his way to Buford nearly three decades ago.

Located along Interstate 80 at 8,000 feet above sea level, Buford is the highest community along I-80 (which stretches from San Francisco to Teaneck, New Jersey), but whose most notable geographical distinction references its horizontal, not vertical, expanse.

“We’re the smallest town in the United States,” Sammons said proudly. There are a couple of other places with a population of one, but they don’t have a post office – they’re combined with other towns. We still have a post office, and we still show up on the map.”

How I Got Here

Located mid-way between Laramie and Cheyenne and established in 1866 during the construction fo the Transcontinental Railroad, Buford is Wyoming’s second oldest town, which at one time accommodated nearly 2,000 residents, mostly railroad workers. Over time and as work on the railroad finished, most of the residents dispersed, to where only one family lived in Buford in 1980.

At the time, Sammons was running a moving company franchise in Newport Beach, California, but he and his wife Teri, both yearned for a quieter lifestyle. “We wanted more space,” Sammons explained, and with friends living in Cheyenne, they made the lifestyle change, moving to a small ranch three miles from Buford.

Sammons was able to transfer his franchise to Laramie, and he continued working the business until 1992, when the general store in Buford came up for sale.

“In 1990, the man who owned the Buford business died, and his wife and kids didn’t want to live there anymore,” Sammons said. “It took me a couple of years to [negotiate] a price, and in 1992, I bought it, along with the town.”

His purchase included all of the acreage within Buford, along with six buildings: the store, a 1905 schoolhouse he converted into an office the original Buford store, built in 1895 that is now his garage and workshop a one-room log cabin, built in 1900l a barn and a house, where he has lives for the past 20 years.

How Difficult Can It Be?

While Sammons was new to the convenience and fuel retailing industry in 1992, he relied on his prior business experience to help shorten the learning curve. “With my business history, it made it easier because there are operational things I knew, I just didn’t know the produce,” Sammons said. “But it wasn’t early as easy as what people thought.”
“How difficult can it be, you buy stuff and sell stuff,’ a friend of mine said. But it’s more complicated than that,” Sammons explained. “Even though the technology has gotten easier, business in general got more complicated because of things being more diversified, working closer on the margins and the need to become a better businessman.”

While the store Sammons purchased included fuel pumps, they were not up to late 20th century standards, which became one of his first renovation projects.
“They were very antiquated, everything was very dated,” Sammons said. “The building was from 1939, and the pumps were the real old type; you had to read the pumps with stick readings, and all of that.”

Sammons began reading industry trade publications and studying operational case studies, but he always treads carefully, as he can’t afford to invest in losing propositions.

“A lot of things that work in a typical c-store don’t work in my facility, so I have to be very cautious,” he said. “My demographic is unique because I don’t have a base population, like Cheyenne or Laramie. So while [city-based retailers] might ride out market highs and lows, a least for a big, I see trends in the economy much quicker than someone with a c-store in a town, because I have no town business, it’s only commuters here.”

It’s a shortcoming that prompted him to create a loyalty card system in 1996(!), rewarding customers with a 20-cent per gallon savings – what he also offers cash-paying motorists. To date, he counts more than 2,500 customers among his loyalty card followers, though he concedes they’re not all active.

PostcardA Good Location?

As Buford sits between Laramie and Cheyenne, Sammons receives a fair amount of commuter traffic each day between the two towns (“The highway department said about 10,00 people a day commute,” Sammons said), but he benefits mostly from visitors to two state parks, both within six miles of Buford, and a national forest, which is 12 miles away.

“During summer days, we’ll sometimes get 1,000 people through here,” Sammons said –a tremendous traffic flow, especially noting Sammons is usually the store’s only worker. But he is quick to deflect any focus on what a Herculean effort tending to 1,000 customers entails.

“There are always lulls….you get 10 minutes here or there, so you check the bathrooms, you check stock,” he said matter-of-factly. “There’s no sense bringing in part-time help, because there’s only one POS anyway.”

Due to Sammons’ remote location, many distributors won’t service his location, which makes most of his days considerably longer than the stores 8am to 6pm operating hours.

“On many days, I’ll get up at 5am and head into town [Laramie or Cheyenne]. There’s a warehouse club that opens at 7am for business,” Sammons said. “By 7:25 am, I’m out the door and I head to the bank that opens at 7:30 am to get change for the store. And then I’m back at Buford no later than 8:05.”

A Few Small Challenges

And after a full day tending to customers, when the store closes at 6 pm, there is still considerable work to be done. “Most mom and pop stores are dirty and messy,” Sammons said. “I pride myself on having a very clean facility outside and in. I rebuilt the building in 2004 and I clean the bathrooms at least four to five times every day, as well as whenever a group leaves.”
Over the past few years, Sammons has hired part-time help to assist on days when he takes a day off – but he usually spends that time cutting the store’s grass and maintaining equipment.
Sammons said his business is down roughly 50 percent from 2009, when he grossed $1.2 million, a lull that he attributes to the economy. (“Last year, it was $700,000, and this year, I’m on track for $600,000,” he said.) “The public is not traveling,” he said. “And the commuters, they’re still buying fuel, but the in-store purchases have slowed. And you can’t live on gas margins alone today.”

As a result, Sammons offers free coffee to motorists, an incentive that brings many pay-at-the-pump motorists inside, but for little more than the free coffee.” Washington, D.C. says there’s no inflation; it’s amazing the bubble it has around it,” Sammons said, before initiating a discussion on swipe fees that lasts 15 minutes.

“Next to my mortgage, credit card fees are my largest expense,” he said. “I pay more for credit card fees than I do for electricity, there’s something wrong there.”
Sammons also has to contend with highway closures that, owing to his elevation, are frequent in the winter. “Each year, the road is closed about 20 or 30 days,” Sammons said, during which there is zero traffic to his store. “This year, we had one stretch of five straight days, which is real difficult.”

Sammons made a switch to branded fuel a few years ago and he has been offering E85 since 2007, both efforts to extract as large a return as possible from his pumps. While his in-store inventory parallels traditional snack and beverage favorites, he said his merchandise sales are his most significant revenue generators.

“I have a gift shop area, anything with Buford on it – postcards, t-shirts – those are my most popular items,” Sammons said. He recently overhauled his company website, which will enable browsers to purchase Buford merchandise in the near future (as of writing, the retail element was still being tweaked).
While outsiders might look at Sammons and his Buford existence as lonely and isolating, he said his convenience store lifestyle is anything but. “I’m a people person, and I love doing this,” he said. “When people come into the store, some are happy and some are not. I just want to make sure that when people leave, they’re happier than when they came in.” NACS

Jerry Soverinksy is a NACS Magazine contributing writer and a NACS Daily writer.

What Is In Buford, Wyoming?

August 11th, 2011

Often we hear the question “what can you do in Buford, Wyoming?”. There are many things to do!


Vedauwoo (pronounced vee-da-voo), is the  “Land of the Earthborn Spirit”.  This natural area is a secluded rocky oasis with dense pine forests, natural wild flowers and Wyoming wildlife under the wide-open western skies. Vedauwoo is 4.4 miles from the Buford Trading Post. Camping is available, visit Public Lands for more information or stop in to the Buford Trading Post for your camping supplies!

Hiking and Rock Climbing

For the adventurous people, rock climbing at Vedauwoo is a popular attraction. All ages and skill levels will find areas to climb and see the beautiful Wyoming wilderness in its natural state.  Granite walls, cliffs, boulders and open areas provide an outdoorsmans mecca in the beautiful Medice Bow National Forest. 

Curt Gowdy State Park

This state park boasts fishing, horseback  riding, an archery range, bird watching, hiking, mountain biking, boating, camping and picnic areas. This beautiful state park is only 20 minutes from Buford, Wyoming!  Find more information about Curt Gowdy State Park on the  Wyoming State Parks website.

Cheyenne Frontier Days

Every July, the Cheyenne Frontier Days rodeo and concert series comes alive.  Folks travel from around the globe to experience the “Daddy of ‘em All”.  Buford, Wyoming attracts many tourists en route to the  parades, shows, shopping and more, which are only 30 minutes away.  The western art show and vendors bring in the masses, attracting “real” cowboys and cowgirls - even if “real” only for a day or a week out of the year.  To experience the western legend, visit the CFD Rodeo website for more information.

Laramie Jubilee Days

A local favorite, Jubilee Days takes place in beautiful downtown Laramie, Wyoming - a short 23 minute drive from Buford, Wyoming.  Laramie’s Jubilee Days brings life to the streets with rodeos, parades, downtown exhibitors, car shows, street dances, the “fall brawl” and more.  Experience Wyoming or learn more about this local favorite, visit the Jubilee Days website.

Today Show

August 8th, 2011

Buford, Wyoming was featured on the Today Show on NBC. See what resident Don Sammons has to say about living in the “loneliest city in America”.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

More information:

Buford, Wyoming on 9 News

January 26th, 2011

Buford, Wyoming has a visit from 9 News in Denver.
Adam Chodak writes:

BUFORD, Wyo. - Meet Don Sammons and you meet the whole town of Buford, Wyoming. He’s the sole resident.

“Town meetings are always fun,” Sammons said with a laugh. Buford sits just off Interstate 80 between Laramie and Cheyenne. It consists of six buildings. Sammons owns all of them.

One is his house. Another is his business, the Buford Trading Post, which is a gas station/convenience store.

“The first question visitors have is, ‘Am I the one?’” Sammons said as he sat behind the counter.

Sammons tells them he is the one and only, but is quick to add that Buford wasn’t always this tiny.

Founded in 1866, it’s actually one of the oldest towns in all of Wyoming. The railroad kept its population healthy for years. But like so many railroad towns, Buford nearly withered away.

Sammons moved there from California in 1980 with his wife and son making Buford a town of three.

“Then about 15 years ago, the wife passed away,” Sammons said.

That left father and son.

“My son said it was a dictatorship while he lived here, but I told him when he turned 18, he would have the right to vote,” Sammons said.

That right wasn’t enough to keep his son around.

“About three years ago, he grew up and moved away,” Sammons said.

His departure made Buford the smallest town in the country. Sammons says there are other towns with one resident, but he doesn’t know another one with its own zip code.

“Buford is unique, so I’d like people to know that,” he said.

In his store, you can find a host of souvenirs from hats to mugs. The post card is his best seller.

“I always wanted Buford to be one of the nice places that people would come and want to come back,” he said.

All those visitors keep boredom at bay.

“I get so many people by the end of the day, it’s nice to just have some quiet time when I get home,” he said. “For a population of one, there’s a lot going on.”

(KUSA-TV © 2010 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)