Missoula Story of the Week: Buy a Montana Town


Sometimes living in Missoula can make you forget just how expansive Montana really is. Being surrounded by mountains and the rain clouds for the past few weeks may have led people to question why someone decided to title it Big Sky Country.

A quick drive east (quick by Montana standards) will clarify the meaning behind this moniker. Montana truly is enormous, not only in its scope, but also its beauty.

Perhaps the best example of Montana’s immensity is the upcoming auction of a small town named Pray in the state’s Paradise Valley. Montana is so large that small towns are scattered throughout the state in some very remote areas. Pray, which is one of these towns, will go on the auction block on June 27. The auction will be conducted together by Mason & Morse Ranch Co. of Glenwood, Colo., and United Country-Shobe Auction & Realty.

The town may consist of only five acres and two commercial buildings, but if your bid is the highest and it is accepted by Barbara Walker (the town’s current owner) you could be the proprietor of the town, according to a recent Missoulian article.

Although Walker is hoping to get close to $1.4 million for the town, the fact that it is located just thirty miles from Yellowstone National Park will certainly relieve some of the sticker shock.

Main Street, Small Town, USA

But, what would someone do with their own ZIP code? Well, without any zoning or covenants the possibilities are pretty much wide open. One could become the mayor, turn the commercial property into a bed-and-breakfast, sell touristy stuff to vacationers on their way to Yellowstone, or just sit back and lord over their very own hamlet.

While the name of the town might seem conducive to starting a religious cult, don’t. The people in the valley have had enough of that, see the Church Universal and Triumphant’s website for an example. Also, when the date for Armageddon comes and goes without anything happening, you tend to lose your followers.

So don’t miss out on an opportunity to govern your own small piece of Montana. Just think of what an exciting entry into your family’s yearly newsletter this would make. You could finally show up that relative who keeps sending in pictures of his new boat.

Get your bids ready and start insisting that your family and friends refer to you by mayor when they address you. They will eventually warm to your firm, but fair rule.


Each week, Tom Diddel recaps the week’s most talked-about story in Missoula. Visit the Make it Missoula News & Opinion section for more talk of the town.


Tom Diddel has lived in Missoula on and off for nearly thirty-eight years. He enjoys skiing, hiking, and many other outdoor activities. He holds a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Montana and is currently working as a Freelance Writer and a Para-Educator.