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They Did What?: 

The internet is teaming up to buy this town via a Google Doc


Johnsonville is a town for sale to anyone with $1,000 and access to Google Docs

“Let’s buy a town,” tweeted Dan Sinker optimistically yesterday morning, linking to an auction for the sale of a small ghost village sandwiched between New York and Boston. Just 24 hours later and he’s raised $120,000, with a little help from his 14K Twitter followers and a Google Doc.

Take a quick tour around the Johnsonville village and you’ll soon see how Sinker was able to drum up interest so quickly – in fact, it’s a wonder how it’s been deserted for more than 20 years. The 19th century mill town is located in an idyllic setting, the houses look in decent shape and it’s complete with a general store, restaurant, community centre and schoolhouse that are all ripe for renovation. The property totals 62 acres of land suitable for commercial or residential development as well as the the picturesque Johnson Millpond – which features a quaint covered bridge, wooden dam and a waterfall.

Initially valued at $800,000, Sinker sought to find 800 users on Twitter who could all stump up a $1,000 or more. Instead of using Kickstarter of Indiegogo to crowdsource the money, though, he set up a public Google Doc allowing users to sign up with their Twitter handle and pledge a contribution.


Johnsonville is a 2 hour drive from both New York and Boston.

As well as pledges, the Google Doc is also being treated as a village forum, populated with comments, questions and suggestion from the prospective owners. In a column headed ‘Town Notes’, backers have called dibs on various buildings, while others have offered their services to the fledgling community. User @jdmoves commented: “Lawyer in town? You got it!”

Another section of the document saw a vote for public mayor, with candidates including Steven Colbert, Chuck Norris, and Rob Ford. The democratic process still needs some ironing out, but it appears Dolly Parton won the election. Now, who’s going to explain this to her?

Sinker and the Google Doc backers are still some way away from their target, and complications could still arise should they manage to raise the money. For instance, tracking down 800 Twitter users and converting their name on a Google Doc into $1,000 of real cash. Still, it’s a project founded on a dream, and we’ll be cheering them on throughout the auction.

Click play on the video below to take a virtual tour of Johnsonville and, if you like what you see, maybe even pop your name down on the Google Doc.

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