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High bid Pray, Mont., falls short

PRAY — The town of Pray in southwestern Montana failed to attract a bidder willing to pay the minimum acceptable amount.

Bidding on Wednesday reached $325,000. The minimum acceptable wasn't disclosed, but owner Barbara Walker initially listed the property for $1.4 million.

Walker said a large commercial space and apartment that is the central building on the property is worth more than the amount offered.

"To not have a bid that is even serious today — providence is taking this in a very interesting direction," she said after the auction.

Pray is made up of a closed historic store, a post office, a few mobile homes and the large commercial and residential building. Walker said she's not sure what will happen next as far as selling the property.

Wednesday's auction was handled jointly by Shobe Auction & Realty of Lewistown and Mason & Morse Ranch Co. of Glenwood, Colo.

Five bidders attended the auction in person while five more participated over the Internet. About 90 people observed the auction, including many area residents. Philip Lebis, of Helena, offered the $325,000 bid.

Pray, founded in 1907, is three miles north of Chico Hot Springs Resort. The town was moved once so it could be closer to the railroad connecting Yellowstone National Park and Livingston.

For 59 years, the Walker family has owned Pray, with Eric and Madge Walker of Hardin leaving their southeast Montana dairy to run the store, gift shop and gas station at Pray.

In 1999, their children took over the town, with Barbara and Johnny Walker taking over the store in 2004. But Johnny was diagnosed with cancer and died in 2006, leaving the property to Barbara.

"Obviously it's still for sale," she said.


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