Note: This article is a sidebar to this issue's feature story.
Twenty minutes south of San Luis, Colo., large road signs tell you Wild Horse Mesa is nearby. Evan Melby is the owner of 25,000 acres here; his billboards announce you can buy a five-acre lot for $4,990, or $750 down and monthly payments of $75. Melby and his one-room office are not easy to find. His platted development winds through a maze of dead ends and miles of roads made of crushed volcanic rock.
Evan Melby: "It is so fulfilling giving people their dream. I have 3,000 2.5-acre lots and 99 percent are already sold. I have over 300 miles of roads up here, and my latest plan is to put in a two-story restaurant and five-unit hotel up by my runway for "fly-ins."
"The runway is two miles long and I have 75 lots surrounding it. Pilots will be able to fly their planes right to their front door. I don't know of any other place you can do that.
"I have a 30,000-gallon water tank up here that I fill using pumps and then it will gravity-feed the lots. But right now I don't know what I will do with the water system. I don't promote it yet - clients are responsible for their own wells.
"This is the best elk hunting in Colorado: Everybody gets an elk that owns land. I love animals here. I feed the elk grain and salt to keep them around. The customers love it.
"I have probably 50 percent-to-60 percent absentee owners, but some day all these five-acre lots will have homes, and the utilities will come. You know, California was just as empty at some point.
"The county is going to grow. People are going to move. Ninety-five percent of the Hispanic community is all for these new people coming to the valley.
"This is the last undiscovered place in Colorado. Isn't it incredible?"