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Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Would You Like to Buy the Charmingly Named Town of Cal-Nev-Ari?

Posted By on Tue, Mar 1, 2016 at 11:14 AM

click to enlarge Cal-Nev-Ari - GOOGLE MAPS
  • Google Maps
  • Cal-Nev-Ari

The western United States has a lot of cool place-names, from Mexican Hat, Utah to Petroleum County, Mont., to Why, Ariz.

The Mojave region in particular is full of curios: Zzyzx, for instance, and the mystical-sounding (but mostly depressing) Twentynine Palms. Or Pahrump, Nev., the town west of Vegas where the Martians first landed in Mars Attacks!

But few of these curios are for sale, as one particular eccentrically named burg is.

click to enlarge Cal-Nev-Ari, surrounded by not much else on Highway 95. - GOOGLE MAPS
  • Google Maps
  • Cal-Nev-Ari, surrounded by not much else on Highway 95.

A few miles east of the California-Nevada border is the tiny town of Cal-Nev-Ari, population 244 (or 350, depending who you ask). There are two salient facts about Cal-Nev-Ari, located right where you think it is, near the triple border of the three states from which its name derives: It's not pronounced the way it's written — it's "cal-nuv-AIR" — and according to KTNV, you can buy it for only $8 million

"What's in Cal-Nev-Ari?" you might ask, doing your due diligence before committing. A quick tour via Google Maps reveals a casino, an airstrip, trailers with prop planes parked in the yard, and no obvious place of worship other than a billboard proclaiming "You Must Be Born Again." From a distance, it could be a body double for Mos Eisley. And while most of the dozen or so streets are named for Native American tribes, there's also the Sam Peckinpah-sounding "Slim Kidwell Way."

Kidwell, along with his wife Nancy, founded the town in 1965, essentially building it from scratch. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the population was initially four people, but the Kidwells turned the plot of desert 70 miles south of Vegas into an inviting place to live, luring retirees from the bustle of the Strip. Slim Kidwell (who was 34 years older than his wife) died in 1983, and Nancy later remarried his son, Ace. Now she's too old to stay in charge of the community she began more than half a century ago, which as of the 2010 census had nobody living below the poverty line. And Cal-Nev-Ari is selling for a discount: It was priced at $17 million as recently as 2010.

But as the trailer for Fuller House parody reminds us, the most recent sales for four or five of the Painted Ladies netted more than the entire market value of Cal-Nev-Ari. And remember that cheeky survey that found it's cheaper to live in Las Vegas and commute here than to live in S.F.? You can do them one better, if you can fly your own plane.

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About The Author

Peter Lawrence Kane

Peter Lawrence Kane is SF Weekly's Arts Editor. He has lived in San Francisco since 2008 and is two-thirds the way toward his goal of visiting all 59 national parks.


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