The tiny ghost town of Swett, South Dakota is up for sale, again. And it’s going cheap! It was originally put on the market in June, 2014, at $399,000 by its previous owner. Get out your checkbooks, though. It’s now going for a paltry $250,000.
Swett is located along U.S. Highway 18, about a two hour drive southeast of Rapid City. The unincorporated community got its start in 1932 when the local grocery store, owned by a farmer named Swett, added a post office. Topping out at a population of around 40 during the 1940s, it has certainly dwindled since then. As the population dropped, those remaining bought up the property, until eventually it was all owned by one person. Ownership has changed hands a few times since then.
In 1998 the whole town was purchased by Lance Benson. He lost it in a divorce (pre-nup, Lance! If you want to keep any towns you own, use a pre-nup!) but re-acquired it in 2012. He then put it on the market for the $399,000 price tag but the bank ended up taking over the property and put it up for sale at the current price.
The $250,000 gets you a package deal that includes six acres of prairie, a garage and tire shop, an abandoned and reputedly haunted house, and the Swett Tavern.
The tavern is sure to be the most intriguing part of the purchase. Daniel Simmons-Ritchie, reporter for the Rapid City Journal, described it as being the “beating heart” of the community, the “de facto gathering place for a small army of local cowboys and wheatgrowers”. He also states the bar was known for attracting some rough customers back in the day.
Gerry Runnels, a long-time patron of the bar, recalls the words of an Oklahoma man who was passing through and stopped for a drink. “He said you need a Bowie knife to get in this place and a chainsaw to get out.”
Gerry’s nephew, Ray Runnels, defends the bar. Speaking to the Rapid City Journal, he said, “It’s now kind of a place you can come in and have a meal with your family rather than defend your family.”
So if you have a spare quarter-million laying around and are thinking about investing in six acres of deserted town, this might be just what you’re looking for.
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