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Canadian Ghost Town Sold

Reuters- January 25, 2005

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - An abandoned, but well-maintained, British Columbia mining town, complete with library, pub and hospital, has been sold to an unidentified Virginia property developer who must now decide what he wants to do with it.

The buyer paid less than C$7 million (3.03 million pounds) for Kitsault, located on a fjord near the Alaska Panhandle about 500 miles (800 km) northwest of Vancouver, the town's marketing agent said on Tuesday.

The isolated town went on the block in September after standing vacant under the watch of a caretaker for more than two decades. The residents left when a collapse in metal prices shut a nearby molybdenum mine.

Rudy Nielson of Niho Land & Cattle said 10 offers were submitted for Kitsault, which had been owned by U.S. copper giant Phelps Dodge. The company is keeping ownership of the mine site.

Nielson said the investor had not decided what to do with the site, which was once home to several thousand people and has 90 houses and 210 apartments as well as a dock, shopping centre, gym and curling rink.

"There is something about owning a town...There's a mystique about it. He'll worry about what do with it later," Nielson said.

The new owner is eyeing refurbishing the community, which is accessible by float plane and mountain road, as a vacation resort, using the area's fishing and heli-skiing potential, according to Nielson's company.

A Phelps Dodge said it was pleased to have found a buyer for the community, which it believed has development potential. The company last year sold a mining town in New Mexico, but still owns two communities in Arizona, a spokesman said.

The caretaker cut lawns and maintained the buildings, which were heated during the fall and winter to make sure that mould did not grow. The Kitsault area receives substantial rain and snow each year.