Woodside residents don't care if their town is sold
The words in the real estate ad sort of jump off the page: "Sheriff, Judge and Executioner Wanted For the Town of Woodside."
That's an eyecatcher. The body copy of the ad goes on to say that the acreage of what was once a bustling little railroad town in Emery County is for sale through Bridge Realty.
Woodside has gone from a population of about 300 people a century ago to a single defunct gas station and a few free-range llamas. "They've got food there and they've got water. They know how to eat and how to drink," said realtor Mike Metzger.
The challenge of selling what was once a town is a new experience for him, and the dilapidated structures visible from US 6 don't "present" well. But as the saying goes, "Wait. There's more."
Not immediately visible to drivers whizzing by are 657 acres of oasis land straddling the Price River.
Going with that acreage are rights to more than 500 acre-feet of water, which includes not only the river but underground well water.
Some of the water is carbonated. There's a carbon dioxide geyser behind the gas station that used to be a tourist draw. It once spouted 70 feet or so, but it is not what it used to be.
Also included in the package are rights to any minerals, oil or gas beneath the property.
Metzger said he thinks the site could be developed into just about anything the buyer wants. The water, the immediate access to a major highway and a railroad nearby make it good for industrial applications. On the other hand, it is suitable for grazing up to 300 cows.
Daily traffic cruising past the old gas station has been measured at more than 120,000 vehicles per month.
It is zoned for mining and grazing or commercial uses.
The town did not have a very long life. It was originally settled by Henry Hutchinson, a prospector, back in 1881. Other homesteaders, attracted by Price River water and relatively flat land settled gradually. It was a watering station for the old steam locomotives of the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad.
Woodside was also a place to load the trains with cattle and agricultural produce from the riverside farms and ranches. By the second decade of the 20th century its population came close to 300.
With the growth of Helper as a railroad stop and the eventual replacement of steam by diesel power, Woodside's use to the railroad vanished. It shrank to nothing more than a cafe, a little store and filling station and the geyser.
Until the mid-1970s there used to be many billboards along US 6 though Spanish Fork and Price canyons advertising the "Roadside Geyser! Bring your camera!" The billboards were cut down and hauled away around 1975.
The cafe and store burned down in 1970. The gas station operated off and on, and finally shut down for good when regular gas was $1.99 a gallon, according to the sign out front.
What's left now, according to the ad in the Sun Advocate, is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for someone with an imagination.
Asking price is $3.9 million.