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updated: 6/29/2014 9:16 PM

For sale: Small South Dakota town, bar included

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  • Ray Runnels, right, and his son Ray Runnels Jr. shoot pool at Swett Tavern in Swett, S.D. The unicorporated town of Swett is owned by one person who has put it up for sale.

      Ray Runnels, right, and his son Ray Runnels Jr. shoot pool at Swett Tavern in Swett, S.D. The unicorporated town of Swett is owned by one person who has put it up for sale.
    ASSOCIATED PRESS

 
Associated Press

RAPID CITY, S.D. -- A businessman looking to invest more time in his traveling concession business is seeking a buyer for his rural, southwestern South Dakota town -- for the price of $400,000.

Lance Benson is the sole owner of Swett, an unincorporated hamlet in Bennett County about two hours southeast of Rapid City. Benson -- who bought the town in 1998, gave it to his ex-wife in their divorce and reclaimed it in 2012 -- put the town on the market last week, according he told the Rapid City Journal.

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In the 1940s, the town had a population of 40 people, along with a post office, some houses and a grocery store. Over the years, ownership of the town concentrated to a single person until it wound up in Benson's hands about 16 years ago. Now, what remains is a bar, workshop, three trailers and a house, where Benson and his current wife live.

Although the town is a shell of its former self, its bar still serves a hearty purpose. As the only watering hole in a 10-mile radius, the Swett Tavern is still the de facto gathering place for local cowboys and wheat growers.

"This place is pretty much where the highway ends and the Wild West begins," local patron Gerry Runnels told the newspaper.

Benson said if it doesn't sell in a year, he'll probably hold onto his small empire.

"I hate to get rid of it," he said.

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