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Making a killing in the wilderness

It may be one of the Wild West's last land grabs, a chance to buy a square mile of Nevada for as little pounds 3,000 down.

But then again, it could also be an inspired piece of marketing. The property company selling a million acres of old railway land - dubbed "scenic wilderness" - was opening sealed bids on the first 60,000 acres yesterday, and seemed poised to make a killing. Two months ago the Nevada Land and Resource Company put out a press release on Business Wire, an international media relations wire service, announcing "The Nevada land rush is on!" It has since had 15,000 inquiries, some from as far away as Germany and Britain.

But as one company officialadmitted, the land in question is mostly high desert with little water, no paved roads, freezing in winter and fiery in summer, suitable mainly for growing sagebrush. "It gives new meaning to the word nowhere," said Carmel Hopkins, real estate editor of the Las Vegas Journal-Review newspaper"It will probably be three to four hundred years before it's worth anything."