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July 28, 2011 6:53 AM   Subscribe

If you have a spare $799,999, you can buy the town of Scenic, South Dakota.

Scenic is a tiny town in the middle of South Dakota. Population? 10. Saloon covered in cattle skulls? Check. Jail? Check. Train depot? Check. Desolation? Check.
posted by flyingsquirrel (96 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Somewhere on ebay, you can buy the city next to Little Big Horn for a cool 8mil. Maybe you can graze all the infantry monuments and make it a true Indian memorial.
posted by Senator at 6:57 AM on July 28, 2011


How much money does that work out to per MetaFilter user?
posted by hermitosis at 6:57 AM on July 28, 2011 [24 favorites]


If your $799,999 isn't spare don't worry. You can quickly earn that money back by hiring the residents out.
posted by DU at 6:57 AM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I absolutely love town names like "Scenic." For the longest time I thought that Truth or Consequences, New Mexico was founded by hardcore fire-and-brimstone bible-beaters so intent on getting their message across, they inserted the concept of damnation into the very name of the town.

Nope, it was named after the quiz show.
posted by griphus at 6:59 AM on July 28, 2011 [8 favorites]


[Nixed the flickr link from the text post, you really really need to not do that flyingsquirrel.]
posted by cortex at 7:02 AM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


You forgot the official website!
posted by Gator at 7:02 AM on July 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Ask Kim Basinger about the ROI when buying towns.
posted by Trurl at 7:02 AM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Was just showing an example of the town, not trying to drive traffic. Again, sorry.
posted by flyingsquirrel at 7:06 AM on July 28, 2011


Nah. If I'm going to spend that sort of money on property I'd rather by a closet-sized efficiency apartment in Manhattan.
posted by chasing at 7:06 AM on July 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Rough caluculations put it at 57.8 per user best on the most recent user number I could find.

We can do it! Finally put our money where our mouth is. Who could run a better community I tell you? Between all the beer brewers and bread makers and banjo players we'll be blissfully entertained and distracted until it all falls into coups and cannibalism.

Oo I wanna be a beekeeper!
posted by The Whelk at 7:10 AM on July 28, 2011 [15 favorites]


So I bought a little city (it was Scenic, South Dakota). In brief: shot all the dogs, argued with some people about real estate, got bored and sold out. All in all it was probably a waste of time, but it DID give me this great idea for a story about buying Galveston, Texas.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 7:13 AM on July 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Basically it would be Sim City LARPing.
posted by The Whelk at 7:13 AM on July 28, 2011 [15 favorites]


Nothing says "Scenic" like being located at the end of "Bombing Range Road."

I'm in for $57.80, as long as I don't have to live there.
posted by Floydd at 7:13 AM on July 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


I dunno. I think I'd get more mileage out of 11.5 sockpuppets.

Also, now I want to see pics. Flyingsquirrel, can you link to your flickr set? I can't seem to find it in your flickr tags.
posted by ryanrs at 7:14 AM on July 28, 2011


Run the entire administration through the website, just make a new subsection: MetaTown.
posted by The Whelk at 7:16 AM on July 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


There are pics in the link Gator posted.
posted by jillithd at 7:18 AM on July 28, 2011


I'm in, but only if we can re-animate Cleavon Little and de-age Gene Wilder to be the sheriff and deputy.
posted by griphus at 7:19 AM on July 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ah, here we go: Skulls.

Does the $800k include regular horse deliveries?
posted by ryanrs at 7:19 AM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


@ryanrs: OK. Here's the saloon with the skulls, and here's the woman behind the counter at the convenience store (not sure if she is the town's current "owner.") This is what the surrounding scenery looks like.

And please forgive me for posting the worst post of the day, complete with self-link and absence of official site. Gah. Gonna go hang my head in MetaShame now..
posted by flyingsquirrel at 7:21 AM on July 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


OT:

i dont get it: you can't link to Flickr?
posted by liza at 7:22 AM on July 28, 2011


Based on my experience helping the Mefightclubers build towns in Minecraft we'd have a crunchy technocratic utopia in like a week
posted by The Whelk at 7:22 AM on July 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is certainly not the worst post of the day – and it's not even late in the day yet. I thought this was pretty neat. Thanks, flyingsquirrel.
posted by koeselitz at 7:23 AM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh god, never ever use @ notation. People here hate that.

(Welcome to Metafilter.)
posted by ryanrs at 7:23 AM on July 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


liza: It's not that I linked to Flickr, it's that I linked to one of my own photographs, which happened to be on Flickr, to help illustrate the post. Bad form. Like using @ signs.
posted by flyingsquirrel at 7:24 AM on July 28, 2011


I'm in for $57.80 - can I be in charge of the railroad portfolio? (yes I know the tracks are gone but the depot is still there)
posted by Vindaloo at 7:25 AM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Don't be a h@er, @ryanrs.
posted by swift at 7:26 AM on July 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


Haer?
posted by ryanrs at 7:27 AM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


From the official site's list of what you'd get:
A school is located in the NE corner of town and has been leased to a church.


That car photo is fantastic, flyingsquirrel!
posted by Westringia F. at 7:27 AM on July 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


the time out policy is a little more aggressive in MetaTown
posted by The Whelk at 7:31 AM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't -- how does this even work? Is every single person in town renting from one single owner? How does the law work there? The police? Is this effectively like owning a super giant apartment building that has space for shops, dance studios, etc. inside it rented out to various people, but is still within a “real” police and governmental district?
posted by Shepherd at 7:32 AM on July 28, 2011


I misread the comma as a dot and I was livid you could buy a town for the price of a room in London.

If you buy this, does it also give you the keys to the local HOA?
posted by ersatz at 7:36 AM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is the current owner (via the links page on the official site), and she looks like someone with whom not to mess.
posted by Gator at 7:37 AM on July 28, 2011


I've got a thing set up that emails me whenver eBay's "Real Estate" section has a listing with "dakota" in the title -- one of these days something for $200 will come up and - bam - I'm off to live in the wild prairies!

As for Scenic, though, don't count on income from the Post Office lease -- the USPS is closing a bunch of post offices this year, all in shrinking/dead communities, of which Scenic sounds like one.

How does the law work there? The police?

Most likely the town doesn't have its own police; the county sheriff is in charge. Government probably consists of a mayor and a deputy or secretary; small towns rarely need much more than that. They generally don't have much use for day-to-day government anyways; as long as the county laws are being followed, and the city's charter is obeyed, everyone pretty much goes about their daily duties without thinking about it. Collecting taxes is about the biggest thing, which can be contracted out to an accounting firm -- and things like law-mowing and snow-removal are contracted out (or, like in the now-dissolved Tenney, MN, the mayor owned a tractor and did all the snow removal and mowing himself). There's probably no water or sewage service; every house probably has a well and a septic tank.

My guess is in Scenic, as the town shrunk, the city obtained the property due to tax defaults. There probably aren't any residents there who aren't part of the group that owns the city, so it's not an issue. Or, the 'city for sale' is the core of the city-owned property, but the city limits are a bit larger and include nearby ranches. If you buy the town, you get to sell off the property at your own leisure, or rent it out, but my guess is there are few current tenants.
posted by AzraelBrown at 7:41 AM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you buy this, does it also give you the keys to the local HOA?

Owning a city is the ultimate HOA -- your zoning decisions are legally binding, not just HOA contractual.
posted by AzraelBrown at 7:42 AM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


A few years ago my suburban house wasn't worth much less than that. And now that money buys a whole town!
posted by COD at 7:43 AM on July 28, 2011


Can I move it to somewhere that isn't South Dakota?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:44 AM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


A whole town of 46 acres? Watch out, though: beware the fate of Bridgeville, California. Bought and sold a number of times over, with one young town-owner committing suicide.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:54 AM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm in for $60 but I want that car left where it is for photoshoots...
posted by bitter-girl.com at 7:58 AM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


How much money does that work out to per MetaFilter user?

Exactly what I was thinking. It has long been a fantasy of mine that we MeFites buy wholesale into some very rundown or ghost community and revitalize it and make it the best place to live, ever. I bet we could bring back a significant section of Detroit if we tried.
posted by orange swan at 8:08 AM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I paid half that for my and all I got was my house... I could've had a whole town for just twice as much???
posted by blaneyphoto at 8:09 AM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


There will be plenty more opportunities like this. Rural America is steadily shrinking:
Population outside metro landscape at its lowest, 16 percent. Many communities could shrink to virtual ghost towns as they shutter businesses and close down schools, demographers say.
posted by stbalbach at 8:11 AM on July 28, 2011


A few years ago, Amboy, CA was for sale for not that much (2 or so million, I think)

For those that aren't familiar with it, Amboy sits along a back route from Vegas to LA. This route is popular when the 15 is backed up, as well as for those that may want to ... avoid the law enforcement presence on the main route.
One of its notable features is a long, clear straight, attractive to those who have been stuck behind mom and pop RVs headed to Joshua Tree.

I floated the idea with my investors (read poker buddies) that we should buy the town, set up a police department and abuse civil forfeiture for fun and profit.

Oh, and also restore Roy's.
posted by madajb at 8:13 AM on July 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


If you only change one letter in Flag it becomes workable in the real world.
posted by The Whelk at 8:27 AM on July 28, 2011


Nothing says "Scenic" like being located at the end of "Bombing Range Road."

I've been through Scenic (my gf is from the Black Hills and has family there). It's right on Rt 44, isn't it, and only like a half-hour drive from the Rapid City airport (on the way to the Badlands loop road)? The right developer could probably do something with the location, honestly, if you could get people to drive to the Badlands from Rapid City via 44 instead of the interstate. And as far as Bombing Range Rd goes, it's those crazy Air Force top gun pilots from Ellsworth who might drink in your bar or rent an apartment from you, right? Too bad it's so far from Sturgis, because there's bucks to be had in catering to the hordes of bikers this time of year.

But also, having been through there numerous times, no way am *I* going to buy in, sorry.
posted by aught at 8:37 AM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is the current owner (via the links page on the official site), and she looks like someone with whom not to mess.

If she hasn't been casted for a future David Lynch movie, then he needs to hire some new assistants.
posted by aught at 8:40 AM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


As for Scenic, though, don't count on income from the Post Office lease -- the USPS is closing a bunch of post offices this year, all in shrinking/dead communities, of which Scenic sounds like one.

The Scenic, SD post office is on the list to be closed.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 8:52 AM on July 28, 2011


This is the current owner...and she looks like someone with whom not to mess.

Which is maybe why she's running this little town and you're still on that dinky old site, sniffing for front page posts.
posted by curious nu at 9:06 AM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mister Fabulous: "The Scenic, SD post office is on the list to be closed."

From what I can see, the list is actually of post offices to be studied. They may or may not be closed based on what they find (and community pushback). I'm sure Scenic will be going, though.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:08 AM on July 28, 2011


Between all the beer brewers and bread makers and banjo players we'll be blissfully entertained and distracted until it all falls into coups and cannibalism.

Oh dear, I'd better unpack, I read that as cannabis
posted by infini at 9:13 AM on July 28, 2011


that would be ascending into
posted by The Whelk at 9:18 AM on July 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Whelk - I can help with the beekeeping, I'm also a baker and a chicken keeper. I'm a pretty sufficient homesteader. I'll set up the bakery and you can definitely count on my $57.80.

Actually, make it $115.60 as I'll put in for Mr. Sophie1 as well.
posted by Sophie1 at 9:23 AM on July 28, 2011


I'm in. I'll get the farming started, and the bees will be useful for pollination.
posted by Jon_Evil at 9:38 AM on July 28, 2011


Wow...I've been to Scenic several times. Fun fact- do you see where it says "Indians Allowed" on the saloon- it used to have a sign telling Indians to go away in Lakota.

If you've read Ian Frazier's On the Rez that's the saloon he mentions
posted by Esteemed Offendi at 9:39 AM on July 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


I have USD$60 and I own my own banjo.
posted by Shepherd at 9:46 AM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


In for $120 with Ms. Morhead.

Also, Senic is unincorporated, so it doesn't have any town government. Any zoning issues would be from the township.
posted by craven_morhead at 9:50 AM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, Scenic is noted in my family as the place where my hippie Dad got the shit kicked out of him back in the 60's, for wearing a Eugene McCarthy button...
posted by Esteemed Offendi at 9:51 AM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is so sad.

I spent a couple months in the tiny South Dakota town of Red Owl. Coming from Oakland, CA, that place seemed like another country to me. A wonderful, terrible, unbelievably beautiful country where the mailman (who only was the mailman as a sideline from his ranch and store) would hike a half mile up a snow covered driveway to bring the mail after they finally plowed the road after a week long storm, and also the kind of country where they refuse to sell you property if you live with your heterosexual partner without being married first.

It's a culture dying off. It's terrible.
posted by serazin at 10:06 AM on July 28, 2011


I think a bunch of old Hippies dvojka buy the place and turn it into a commune.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 10:08 AM on July 28, 2011


That's what I'm trying to organize here!

Jonmc can run the bar!
posted by The Whelk at 10:09 AM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Stupid B/C/S AutoCorrect, just old Hippies. Not old girl Hippies.
Oh, to you bee-keepers, I do know how to make decent mead.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 10:11 AM on July 28, 2011


But also, having been through there numerous times, no way am *I* going to buy in, sorry.


I've only visited once, aught. But, yup.

We paused at Scenic before driving on to the Badlands. (Like every other stranger to those parts, I suppose, it was the skulls that stopped us...) I remember empty shelves of dead flies (& the odd sun-bleached mac & cheese box) in the seedy gloom of the convenience store, then skedaddling over the road with our kids to a kind of shitty bits 'n bobs shop (with a post office-type counter, in the rear) which looked as if it might sell an unexpected rural curio or two; instead it had a very, very confused young man in - I guess - some sort of alcohol collapse, writhing & laughing horribly on the dirty floor behind some 2nd hand jackets on a rail (the store keeper said stonily: "don't mind him..."). So we ran away.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 10:11 AM on July 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


We're gonna need someone who's real handy with a saw and a drill.
posted by Sophie1 at 10:12 AM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


And from today's UK Daily Mail:

Wyoming is famous for its glorious Eastern Great Plains, majestic Rocky Mountains and pristine lakes - but now it's also become the home to the world's most expensive house.

The home has gone on the market for a staggering $175 million (£106m) and boasts a huge 1,750 acre back yard - but the main residence only offers three bedrooms.

Jackson Land and Cattle ranch is set in the beautiful surroundings of the western state, with incredible views of the Rocky Mountains.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2019665/The-worlds-expensive-house-goes-sale-106m--got-THREE-bedrooms.html#ixzz1TQAnZG5Y

posted by Jody Tresidder at 10:17 AM on July 28, 2011


I don't get the South Dakota hate unless referring to politics, because yeah, that sucks.

I went through Scenic, and lots of the rest of SD, last year on my road trip. The state itself is beautiful. Count me in for purchasing powah!
posted by deborah at 10:19 AM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


This town is in a pretty good location. Smack in the middle of the Badlands National Park, at the intersection of a couple of bigger roads. I'm wondering: do you buy the land and the buildings, or do you buy the actual town, the political structure? It's unincorporated, so maybe there isn't any town to buy?
posted by Nelson at 10:23 AM on July 28, 2011


If we collectively purchase it, we can start saying "$20, same as in our town."
posted by davejay at 10:38 AM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


In fact, could we rename it "Sameasin Town"?
posted by davejay at 10:39 AM on July 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Everyone on Mefi could buy it and then we could make it a big time-share! If we do, I'd like to sign up for 2:30PM-2:45PM on March 29th. That's my time. Stay the hell out.

and

MetaFilter: Oo I wanna be a beekeeper!
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 10:40 AM on July 28, 2011


the kind of country where they refuse to sell you property if you live with your heterosexual partner without being married first.

It's a culture dying off. It's terrible.


Wait, it's terrible that culture is dying off?

(Spoken half-kiddingly by the grandson of rural Montanans.)
posted by hermitosis at 10:41 AM on July 28, 2011


I know a few queer motorcycle clubs that would love to have a safe place to hang that's less than an hour and a half from Sturgis.

Of course if our little town of Scenic had an abortion provider, we'd probably be a popular destination throughout the rest of the year.

Just thinking practicalities...
posted by Sophie1 at 10:55 AM on July 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


Ach, apologize, I don't have time to read this whole thread right now -

I've been in Scenic - years ago. It seemed like a ghost town when we were there - road signs and abandoned autos riddled with bullet holes. The cattle skulls and "no injun" signs painted in mis-spelled English and what I think was Oglala on the salloon sign. I have pix somewhere, I think.

This was a very significant locale at the heart of the late 60s to mid- 70s American Indian movement and shootings:

March 1, 1975: Martin Montileaux is shot in the throat following an argument with Russell Means and Richard Marshall in a men’s room stall at a bar in Scenic, South Dakota. Montileaux later dies from his injury.

posted by madamjujujive at 10:59 AM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Who run MetaTown?
posted by MikeMc at 11:03 AM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


This will probably betray my sheltered upbringing, but 'touring' the city in Street View, it's strange seeing an actual PLACE like this, that still exists, that isn't rendered by the 3D engine of a first-person shooter.

and shiiiiit, I'll chip in for your little town.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 11:04 AM on July 28, 2011


Maybe this could be the place people were sent to live if they were put in timeout by the mods.
posted by hermitosis at 11:27 AM on July 28, 2011


We're going to need a fire department, because once you own a town, flameouts can get downright dangerous.
posted by nickmark at 11:28 AM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pshaw. For the same amount of money you could own a significant chunk of land in Michigan's beautiful Western Upper Peninsula, which, BTW, has these convenient things called Great Lakes (perhaps you've heard of them?) surrounding it, as well as an abundance of both trees and fertile farmland. Why move out to the prairie desert when you can have all the conveniences of rural, arboreal splendor and a delightful panoply of 4-season recreational opportunities literally at your very doorstep?

(this message Not brought to you by the Michigan Dept. of Land Management--we don't have one and if we did, our governor would have sold it off to his cronies long ago...)
posted by Chrischris at 11:39 AM on July 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


Maybe this is a stupid question, but how does a single individual "own" a town (that apparently has at least some residents) anyway? Does the woman selling the town own all the property and the residents rent it? Or is she only selling the portions of the town that are not owned by residents? Businesses are included in that sale and not described as "abandoned", so I have to imagine that they are renting the premises from the current owner?

The only other instances I've heard of this happening were mining towns where the mining company was indeed the legal owner of all lands and all housing was rented (to miners and families who were then evicted when the mine closed down). I would imagine that South Dakota would be more agricultural and that farmers would typically own the land they work (even if it worth very little).
posted by Kurichina at 11:58 AM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Maybe this could be the place people were sent to live if they were put in timeout by the mods.


VILLAGE OF THE BANNED
posted by The Whelk at 12:12 PM on July 28, 2011 [6 favorites]


How much money does that work out to per MetaFilter user?

Oh if only. I keep telling my friends who (like me) don't have kids, we all need to gather together in our dotage, so we can take care of each other. This place is perfect -- . I remember it being THE destination off the highway if you had to pee and get a bottle of water. That alone is a viable business model.

Plus we could put up a couple of billboards, though I think the South Dakota highways might be a wee tad saturated on that front.
posted by flyingsquirrel at 12:17 PM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Let's see, for 800k I could buy an ENTIRE TOWN or .... a small closetless 1BR in nyc.

*weeps*
posted by elizardbits at 3:00 PM on July 28, 2011


I don't get the South Dakota hate unless referring to politics, because yeah, that sucks.

Take another look at our voting history; you might be surprised. Sure, we tend to vote for Republicans in the presidential elections, dominated as they are by moral issues. But when it comes to congressmen, we know where the earmarks come from.

We kept reelecting one of the most powerful Democrats in Washington for years, until the Republicans beat him out with a whole crapload of national GOP money.
posted by roll truck roll at 3:37 PM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, I would not mind being in, some cash and willing to run the Senior Center as well as make mead.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 3:52 PM on July 28, 2011


I can do sign and mural painting if we want to gussy up the place
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 4:32 PM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not really good at anything yet but I could probably tend bar or do paperwork for the abortion clinic
posted by NoraReed at 4:39 PM on July 28, 2011


I say we resurrect The Gem Saloon; all we need is a MeFite who looks like Al Swearengen to run the place.
posted by bwg at 4:43 PM on July 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Our town is a very very very fine town
Made for me and made for you
painted all in shades of blue

posted by The Whelk at 4:44 PM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Meatbomb is, of course, the head of the church.
posted by The Whelk at 4:44 PM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


and shakesperian runs the movie theatre
posted by The Whelk at 6:30 PM on July 28, 2011


i will guard the cake.
posted by elizardbits at 7:30 PM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm in if I can run the college. Until there is a college I will happily discuss philosophy at the local market (but I will under no circumstances drink hemlock).
posted by oddman at 8:48 PM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


South Dakota?

That's in America, right?

Give it a couple of weeks, I'm sure the price will fall.
posted by pompomtom at 9:19 PM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I say we resurrect The Gem Saloon; all we need is a MeFite who looks like Al Swearengen to run the place.

Let's just draft Ian McShane. Or Kidnap him. Whatever works.
posted by homunculus at 12:00 AM on July 29, 2011


homunculus: "I say we resurrect The Gem Saloon; all we need is a MeFite who looks like Al Swearengen to run the place.

Let's just draft Ian McShane. Or Kidnap him. Whatever works.
"

But what if he elects to be Lovejoy instead?
posted by bwg at 5:44 AM on July 29, 2011


This isn't too far from me, here in central-ish Montana, and if I had the $800K, I think it would be very, very, VERY cool to purchase Scenic.

I would invite all MeFites to the housewarming party, natch.
posted by davidmsc at 5:55 PM on July 29, 2011


Scenic, as anyone can see in the linked map, is not in the middle of SD, but far to the western side, between the Badlands and the Black Hills. It's a helluva long drive from Soo Foo and even longer from the Twin Cities; I know, because I've driven it too many times to count.

Anyway, not bidding, sorry.
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:43 PM on August 12, 2011


We kept reelecting one of the most powerful Democrats in Washington for years, until the Republicans beat him out with a whole crapload of national GOP money.

This guy was pretty good, too.
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:45 PM on August 12, 2011


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