Special Report

Let the Rest of the World Go By

Finally, a spot (out West) to call your own.

By 8.23.05

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It was a song, written in 1919, that has resonated through the years of wars, depressions, and social depredations. Singer Dick Haymes adopted it as his theme song.

"With someone like you, a pal good and true, I'd like to leave it all behind and go and find a place that's known to God alone...just a spot to call our own." The song's writers, J. Keim Brennan and Ernest Ball, suggested this place was somewhere in the West. Let the word go forth: it has been found.

Not one of those quaintly named little towns like Girdletree, Maryland. Too far east, darn near wet, in fact. And not Two Dot, Montana, which could vie for diminutive cachet and is in fact, West. But we speak of Chugwater, Wyoming. Now, there's a name that evokes all that is remote, small, and unprepossessing. And Chugwater wants you!

The place is 40 miles north of Cheyenne, on the way to Wheatland, Glendo, Douglas, and, if you started with a full tank, Casper. Chugwater has 244 residents and is looking for more, so much so that it will sell you a lot for $100 if you promise to build on it and stay in Chugwater for at least two years. This incentive measure was dreamed up by the Chugwater Economic Development Committee, no less. Apparently, the housing bubble has bypassed Chugwater.

At last report, there were six folks committed to the deal -- buy a lot for a hundred bucks and promise to build no less than a three-bedroom house. Town deputy clerk Lisa Redding estimates that can be done for less than $100,000. The cost of living has never gotten out of hand in Chugwater. Chugwater's major industry is the surrounding ranches, though there is a chili powder factory in town that employs about four full-time people. Those taking up the offer come from as far away as Massachusetts and Michigan and one fellow is from upstate, Gillette, Wyoming. Too much activity, methane mining, and noise in Gillette.

How, you may wonder, did Chugwater get its name? The story goes that Indians driving buffalo off the nearby bluffs and into a small stream would hear them making a chugging sound in the water. Makes sense, doesn't it?

So, get the C-note out and, as the song goes, "we'll build a sweet litttle nest somewhere in the West, and let the rest of the world go by."

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About the Author

Reid Collins is a former CBS and CNN news correspondent.