It was in danger of vanishing off the map altogether.
Just eight people still live in Scenic, and its bars and restaurants are shuttered. The sign on the Longhorn Saloon said it all: 'For sale, Scenic, SD. Almost all of this town!'
But now this little speck of a town in western South Dakota has been bought by a mysterious Philippines based church.
|For sale: The owner of nearly-deserted Scenic, S.D., is selling almost all of the town along with the 46 acres she owns|
The Iglesia ni Cristo church bought the town and surrounding acreage just west of the badlands for $799,000.
Long time resident and area rodeo legend Twila Merril had gathered the land bit by bit over several decades.
The church isn't divulging its plans for the property. A person answering the phone at its offices in Daly City, California, said he couldn't share any information.
So far, there has been no church activity in Scenic to hint at what's to come. The lack of information surrounding the sale has some neighbours uneasy.
Life wasn't always so desolate in Scenic, it was once a thriving, rough-and-tumble town.
Founded as a stop-over on the rail road that ran through sparsely-populated South Dakota, the town had a bank, a high school, a church, a grocery store and two saloons.
'Scenic used to be quite the little town in its day,' Leo Stangle, one of the last remaining residents, told the Rapid City Journal.
|Rough past: Scenic has not one, but two jails, a lasting sign of the town's cowboy roots|
'Farmers had big families to feed, and there just wasn’t enough employment for everyone anymore, so gradually, people started to leave, and then the businesses in town suffered and also started shutting down.
'People had no choice but to move out. It was once a cowboy and rail road town - and maybe a little rough now and then.'
Merril had bought up nearly all of the town, lot-by-lot. But the ageing cow-girl's health is failing and she has had to move more than 500 miles away to Rochester, Minnesota for medical treatment.
Her daughter, LeeAnn Keester, told The Rapid City Journal: 'The businesses and land has always been family-run, but now, it’s time for someone else to come in and bring it back to life.
'It’s just me and my mom now, and now, with her health being what it is, it’s just too much for us.
'She just bought them one by one, until we have what we have today.
'I have so many memories in each of the stores and the bar. I’ve worked in every single one and grew up around everything.
'It’ll be sad to let it all go. I have a lot of memories there, and I’m really going to miss it. I hope the person who buys it really enjoys it like we did.'
The property, which includes a U.S. Post Office, the Longhorn Fuel & Food Convenience Store, the Longhorn Saloon, a museum, two houses and not one but two jails.
Traffic still passes through Scenic, which is in the middle of rugged and beautiful Badlands National Forest, but tourists have little incentive to stop.
Scenic was on the market for more than two years before the church got it for a bargain-basement price. Ms Merril originally asked $3million for the property, but lowered the price when it didn't sell.