TILLER, Ore. (AP) — In the tiny, dying timber town of Tiller, the old cliche is true. If you blink, you might actually miss it.
But these days, this dot on a map in southwestern Oregon is generating big-city buzz for an unlikely reason: Almost the entire town is for sale.
The asking price of $3.5 million brings with it six houses, the shuttered general store and gas station, the land under the post office, undeveloped parcels, water rights and infrastructure that includes sidewalks, fire hydrants and a working power station. Tiller Elementary School, a six-classroom building that closed in 2014, is for sale separately for $350,000.
Potential buyers have come forward but are remaining anonymous, and backup offers are still being accepted.
The listing represents a melancholy crossroads for Tiller, a once-bustling logging outpost that sprang up after the turn of the last century deep in what is now the Umpqua National Forest, about 230 miles south of Portland. The post office opened in 1902, and miners, loggers, ranchers and farmers flocked to the community along a pristine river.
By the 1940s and 1950s, there were three timber mills running, and the town expanded the elementary school and built a new general store.
Then, nearly three decades ago, logging on the federal forest lands that encircle Tiller came to a near standstill because of environmental regulations. The mills closed, and families moved away. One longtime resident began buying up properties. When he died three years ago, the family owned much of the town.
Then the Tiller Elementary School closed and was up for sale, as well as a small market, and the man’s estate bought those too — and the potential became clear.
The listing includes more than 256 acres (1 square kilometer) in 29 distinct parcels, water and timber rights, and a variety of zonings, from residential to industrial.
About 235 people still live in the unincorporated area around Tiller, and have long relied on the buildings now for sale along historic Highway 227 as a gathering spot and one of the only places to shop for groceries in miles.
“Between the dying economy and the dying owners, Tiller became a new opportunity that had never been available before,” said Richard Caswell, executor of the estate. “I started getting inquiries from all over the world, essentially, ‘What was it? And what could you do with it?’ It’s the buyer and their imagination that’s going to determine what Tiller can become.”
The potential buyers have said through the seller’s broker that they intend to turn the school into some type of campus and create a “permaculture” development that respects the town’s remaining residents and its picturesque setting in a bend in the emerald-tinted South Umpqua River. They want to make reopening the market a priority.
“The buyers understand that they only have one shot at a first impression,” said Garrett Zoller, principal broker for LandandWildlife.com, the seller’s realtor. “They want to address this project with…