Tucson AZ Home Loan Info


Discouraged A Little? There's Gold In Them Thar Hills. And It's Still True Today!

View from an abandoned mine near Tucson, AZ

It wasn't farming that settled the American West.  It was mining.  The lure of wealth in the form of precious metals like gold (and later, silver) enticed men from the east to leave home and family and make their way west to California.

Open mine shaftThey called 'em the '49ers.  The year was 1849, and  American football wouldn't be invented for another twenty years. 

It had taken a year for the news of the California gold rush to make its way back east, and the result was a stampede of humanity.

If you're a real estate agent in the west, the roots of your livelihood can be traced to this particular event.  In the settled part of the American continent, ownership and transfer of real estate was orderly for the most part.  But that was back east.  And then came the California gold rush.

In an economy where a factory worker earned a dollar for a twelve-hour day, and a skilled craftsman earned half again that amount (a princely $1.50 per day) a prospector might take $25 or more out of a riverbed in California in a day.  That kind of money will change things quickly.

When news of gold at Sutter's Mill reached San Francisco in 1848, the town had a population of 850.  Prospectors began arriving by boat.  By December of 1849, San Francisco's population had swelled to 25,000.  Two years later it topped 36,000(Don't you wish you had real estate demand like that?!)

In the gold fields, mining towns sprang up helter skelter, often without benefit of law.  The names, some of which survive today, paint a picture of the risks associated with life in these primitive towns: Bloody Gulch, Gouge Eye, Hell's Delight and Hang Town.

Present day topographical features such as ridges, canyons and creeks still have names that evoke this period:  Boneyard Creek, Cemetary Ridge, Deadman Creek, Fortynine Gap and Hell Hollow.

The boom went bust.  Many prospectors came late to the California riverbeds, but after having travelled between 3,000 and 15,000 miles to get there, they weren't about to give up.  They struck out on their own, and the American southwest is cratered by mineshafts dug by hand by these hardy souls.

Real Estate values were subject to wild fluctuations 160 years ago just as they are now.  Remember San Francisco's population in 1848?  One historian puts the towns male population on May 12th (the day the news of Sutter's Mill reached town) at 600.  Three days later, only 200 men remained.  Houses were deserted, stores closed and according to one source, even the newspaper folded as no one was left to print or read it. 

I expect that property values plummeted, only to rebound as prospectors by the thousands descended on the port city.  Someone made a lot of money in real estate!

There's a lesson to be learned for REALTORS and lenders alike.  Nothing is forever, and the winds of change that swept away fortunes will reverse themselves.  Make sure you have the right tools to take advantage of the gold rush to come.

Lorne Greene's ballad of the old miner is worth three minutes of your time.  Listen to the video before you comment.  I'm indebted to Bill Archambault for digging up "The Old Tin Cup."



I'm Mike in Tucson, your preferred Tucson Mortgage Lender.

NMLS #223495

SUNSTREET MORTGAGE llc ~ Mortgage Bankers, Not Brokers!
Offices in Scottsdale, Tucson, and Nogales, AZ, and Albuquerque, NM.

Call me on my Blackberry  (520) 349-9090

photos copyright Mike in Tucson


Comment balloon 48 commentsMike Jones • January 31 2010 10:53PM



Fantabulous post. As a Land Specialist, I am particularly interested in this...THX! and thanks for the photos, as usual.

Posted by ASHEVILLE REALTY REFERRAL RESOURCE 828-776-0779, CONTACT janeAnne365@gmail.com ( REAL ESTATE REFERRAL NETWORK ) almost 11 years ago

Green O'Lina,

You're most welcome!  Thanks for being the first to comment.

Mike in Tucson

Posted by Mike Jones, Mike Jones NMLS 223495 (SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171) ) almost 11 years ago

It is a very interesting historical account... and it reminds all of us how the market can shift in a heartbeat... and is forever changing.

Posted by Joan Whitebook, Consumer Focused Real Estate Services (BHG The Masiello Group) almost 11 years ago

and I am reBlogging this one...how did you ever get that great shot of the shadow-ghost by the mine shaft??

Posted by ASHEVILLE REALTY REFERRAL RESOURCE 828-776-0779, CONTACT janeAnne365@gmail.com ( REAL ESTATE REFERRAL NETWORK ) almost 11 years ago


Thanks for the reblog.  The shadow-ghost by the mine shaft is a self portrait with the setting sun behind me.  That particular shaft is in the Ironwood National Monument northwest of Tucson.


That it is!  Thanks for reading and commenting.

Mike in Tucson

Posted by Mike Jones, Mike Jones NMLS 223495 (SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171) ) almost 11 years ago

That's a great thing ... using history to make some really excellent points -- and in a humorous way; thanks!

Posted by Aaron Vaughn, REALTOR© 512-845-4204, My knowledge is your power | eXp Realty (eXp Realty) almost 11 years ago


Love that old ballad! I think it covers allot of the 49ers, people who bet everything on their dreams. Wonderful people dreamers, something so many today don't understand!

Then again Loren Green use to be a neighbor, but I never met him. Incline Village is the only place I've ever lived where it was rare to meet your neighbors, it's sad,  so much of God's beauty so little camaraderiey!


Posted by William J. Archambault, Jr. (The Real Estate Investment Institute ) almost 11 years ago

What a wonderful post... I think more and more the history of our country is being lost and forgotten. Gold mining helped make our nation great and there is still gold to be had... in more ways than one as your post shows... we must forge ahead.. really right on spot thoughts Mike...thanks... and thanks for the Lorne Green blast from the past! Bonanza!

Posted by Debra Leisek ( Bay Realty,Inc Homer Alaska) almost 11 years ago


Bonanza is one of the first TV programs I remember as a kid.  Thanks for commenting.


It's interesting that Lorne Greene was your neighbor~thanks for the ballad!


You're welcome!  See you on your blog.

Mike in Tucson

Posted by Mike Jones, Mike Jones NMLS 223495 (SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171) ) almost 11 years ago


This is an interesting story of the gold rush period and the 49ers. It serves as a reminder of just how markets can dramatically change and they do over and over again.


Posted by Claudette Millette, Buyer, Broker - Metrowest Mass (The Buyers' Counsel) almost 11 years ago

Mike, the parallel of the story of the rush to the west and our own current day real estate boom and bust is hard to miss.  In our association in 2000 we had about 300 members and then suddenly as appreciation went crazy, we had 700 members.  Now they're rushing away to find the next "easy" money.

I'll sharpen my shovel and keep digging.  I know the gold is here somewhere.  Thanks for the reminder.

Posted by Marian Goetzinger, Crystal Coast Real Estate NC (Pine Knoll Shores Realty 252-422-9000) almost 11 years ago

The gold is still there, you just need to use new tools to find it and look in the right place!

Posted by Betty Knowles, TeamKnowles REALTORS® - Springfield MO Real Estate (Southwest Missouri Realty - www.teamknowles.com) almost 11 years ago


Thank you so much for this interesting post.  It comes at a very good time in Upstate NY and Northern PA with the anticipation of natural gas in the Marcellus Shale. http://oilshalegas.com/marcellusshale.html


I will be reblogging this for our local agents to see.  Thanks again

Posted by Thomas Reid (EXIT Realty Homeward Bound) almost 11 years ago

Great history lesson!!  Arizona was just in the news yesterday about gold in 'them thar hills'.  They were talking about another gold rush with the price of gold going so high.  Is history about to repeat itself?  I love the ballard.  Thanks.

Posted by Barbara Calwhite, 417-438-7387 Specializing in Relocation (Keller Williams Realty of Southwest Missouri) almost 11 years ago
Mike, great post, very well put together. I had heard that the saying "there's gold in them thar hills" was first said about a gold mine outside Charlotte NC. So to back up my story I googled it and added NC to the tag line. The #1 and #2 spots on page one of Google were Active Rain posts. The first is your post rebloged by janeAnne in Asheville and the other was a post by Barbara Todaro. Pretty cool, I think this deserves another re-blog.
Posted by David O'Doherty, Clayton NC Homes, Raleigh, NC (Raleigh Realty Inc) almost 11 years ago

Real Estate values were subject to wild fluctuations 160 years ago just as they are now

This is prevalent today as it was then.. .

Posted by Fernando Herboso - Broker for Maxus Realty Group, 301-246-0001 Serving Maryland, DC and Northern VA (Maxus Realty Group - Broker 301-246-0001) almost 11 years ago

Hi Mike,

I love the story and picture is great as always!

How is the job market today in your area ?


Posted by Anonymous almost 11 years ago


I couldn't open the video,so I don't know what it's all about.


Posted by Eva Erdmann, interior decorator (Lion International Inc.) almost 11 years ago

Great post. I've been posting about how the market has changed and we must change. While some call it a buyers market I call it a lenders market

Posted by Tony Grego, 317-663-4173 #1 Trade Association for Alternative Inv (REISA - 317-663-4173) almost 11 years ago


How did you sneak in there?  :)


Try using a different web browser.  If you're using Internet Explorer and the video doesn't work, try Firefox.  Re the job market in Tucson, it's tough right now.


It's good to see you; thanks for commenting!


Thanks for the reblog!  I'll be over to comment.


History ALWAYS repeats itself!


I was just on your blog; thanks for the reblog of this post!


Keep at it!  Thanks for commenting.


Markets do swing dramatically, and will again.

Mike in Tucson

Posted by Mike Jones, Mike Jones NMLS 223495 (SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171) ) almost 11 years ago

Fixed it!

Posted by David O'Doherty, Clayton NC Homes, Raleigh, NC (Raleigh Realty Inc) almost 11 years ago

We have the same views up here in our mountains. I love hiking Arizona mountains. Great pic

Posted by Harry F. D'Elia III, Investor , Mentor, GRI, Radio, CIPS, REOs, ABR (RentVest) almost 11 years ago

You are so fortunate to live in that part of the country - I love the Southwest and the deserts.  You have written a post that will stick with me - I love your imagery and photos.

Posted by Margaret Goss, Chicago's North Shore & Winnetka Real Estate (Baird & Warner Real Estate) almost 11 years ago

Millie broke out in song - terrific post

Posted by Kathie Morgan almost 11 years ago


I love stories like this.  Since, I was raised in another country, there are still things that I learn of the past.  I love the song too.  Didn't know that Lorne Green was a singer either.  Pretty good. 

Great pictures,


Posted by Tere Rottink (CoastalVa Realty Inc) almost 11 years ago

Thanks for the history lesson and I never missed Bonanza. In fact since it was on Sunday night our Pastor who was a fan made sure we all got home in time to watch.

Posted by Joe Pryor, REALTOR® - Oklahoma Investment Properties (The Virtual Real Estate Team) almost 11 years ago

This post is really great. LOVE the names of the towns - just crazy. And the picture of the vertical mine shaft PROBABLY dug by hand ... the scenario is every interesting all around. Great stories.

Posted by Stephen Kappre, Helping You Home (KW Hometown) almost 11 years ago

Mike, good report and great pictures.

Posted by Ted Tyndall, I will help You find the Home YOU want to Buy (Davidson Realty Inc.) almost 11 years ago

Great post.  My very first listing (in 1992) was of an old silver mining claim above Crested Butte, CO.  10.33 acres for $2,000.  I spent countless hours marching around Whiterock mountain trying to find the four corners--to no avail.  Luckily I never had a single inquiry!  Later I had some of the best experiences of my career working on an abandoned ghost town at about 10,000 feet in elevation!  Some of the most spectacular scenery in the world.  For me, the towns were, Schofield, Tincup, Gothic, Irwin and Floresta, the history was exciting and every showing was an adventure!  One summer I drove an adventurous client through one of the most treacherous four wheel drive routes in Colorado IN HIS OWN SUV!  It was aptly named "The Devil's Punchbowl"  He was a writer and planned to write about his big adventure...

Posted by Bob Maiocco (8Z Real Estate) almost 11 years ago
Good post. This reminds me of one of my favorite Mark Twain quotes... "When everyone's digging for gold, it's time to get into the pick and shovel business."
Posted by Ronald Borch (WJ Bradley Mortgage Capital Corp, S. Burlington, VT) almost 11 years ago

Excellent points!  We need to keep our heads out of the sand!


Posted by Karen Pannell, Owensboro KY Real Estate -270-903-2167 Homes, Cond (Real Living / Home Realty) almost 11 years ago


If you look at my profile photo, it looks like everything except my head is in the sand.  LOL!


I love that quote, and this is the first time I've heard it.  Thank you.


Great comment!  Did the writer ever follow up on his idea?




There's no question; the mine shaft was dug by hand.  Imagine!


Now THAT'S a good preacher!


I guess I'm an Active Rain Educator!  LOL  Thanks for commenting.


I miss Millie!


I'm delighted!  See you on your blog.


Don't we live in a GREAT state?!


Thanks, Bud!

Mike in Tucson

Posted by Mike Jones, Mike Jones NMLS 223495 (SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171) ) almost 11 years ago

So many great stories of the old west and the gold rush. Seems like the west coast has always been one of wild swings in real estate.

Posted by Terry & Bonnie Westbrook, Westbrook Realty - Grand Rapids Forest Hills MI Re (Westbrook Realty Broker-Owner) almost 11 years ago
Great Blog Mike! I love learning about Tucson...you have a passion about Tucson that is incredible! Cheron
Posted by Michael and Cheron Lange, Associate Broker, GRI (Solutions Real Estate) almost 11 years ago

Hi Mike, wonderful job on this post and bringing the old west to life.  There are cycles in everything - and we were big Bonanza fans when it was on TV!

Posted by Mary Douglas, REALTOR, Red Feather Lakes, Colorado (United Country Ponderosa Realty, Red Feather Lakes, Colorado) almost 11 years ago


Me too!


Thanks for stopping by and commenting.  See you on your blog.

Terry & Bonnie,

...and the beat goes on!

Mike in Tucson

Posted by Mike Jones, Mike Jones NMLS 223495 (SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171) ) almost 11 years ago


Really nice post and story connecting the gold rush to what we are doing today. And as always great pictures.

Posted by James Lyon (Vista Pacific Realty) almost 11 years ago

I enjoyed your post. I live in Concord,NC where the biggest gold nugget was found at Reed's Gold Mine.  Love the history!

Posted by Team Honeycutt (Allen Tate) almost 11 years ago
Mike, good post. We also have the million dollar highway here. When you went from Durango to Ouray you were on it. Mining was huge here. Nice talking with you today. Let me know if you get out this way.
Posted by Joan Zappa, Professional treatment of our clients, brings awes (Eagles Wings Realty) almost 11 years ago


I love this story...in fact I'm going to reblog it too!


Posted by Jo-Anne Smith almost 11 years ago


great photos and great writing - as usual.  History was not interesting to me as a child, but I love it now.  You have made it come alive and be fun too.


Posted by Ginny almost 11 years ago


Great story that you shared. Loved your photos too.

Posted by Mike Yeo (3:16 team REALTY) almost 11 years ago

Boy, this one hits close!

Right now here in Amador County, CA. we have a group of developers putting lots of pressure on the locals (many of whom want it, I will admit) to move forward with GOLD RUSH RANCH. 1300 + home sites on the outskirts of Historic Sutter Creek! A town of under 2,000 housholds (1,025 as of 2000 census).Lots of "debate"...

The funny thing is I think some of the developers are from San Fransico.

They are hoping for a Mother-lode, I just hope that their plans pan out instead of going bust like so many prospectors. If that happens it will hurt many more than just them...

On the other hand, who do you think has www.goldrushranchhomes.com ? In case it works...

Great Post!

Posted by Michael I. Pulskamp, REALTOR, EcoBroker, GREEN Desingnee (Mainstreet Brokers) almost 11 years ago

Mike - this is a great story, and we need to remember that in real estate, it's usually not down for long.

Posted by Larry Brewer - Benchmark Realty llc (Benchmark Realty LLc) almost 11 years ago

Mike - This is a great, informative post about our western development. Love the old ballad that gives a feel to the times!


Posted by Debi Boucher, "Realtor Showcase" - Real Estate Photography/Virtual Tours ( Real Estate Showcase Photography) almost 11 years ago

One of my favorites!  I'm sure I will revisit this one!

Posted by Eleanor Thorne, Equity Resources 919-649-5058 (Equity Resources) almost 11 years ago

Mike - Although your top photo is quite spectacular, the unusal composition of the second one with the shadow is intriguing!  Nice job!  I understand that far more gold is still in the hills, than was ever taken out!

Posted by Myrl Jeffcoat, Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent (GreatWest Realty) almost 11 years ago

Mike - another great post with extremely interesting photographs - thanks for sharing!

Posted by Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi, MA, PSA, TRC - Greater Clearwater Florida Residential Real Estate Professional, Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Clearwater, Safety Harbor (Charles Rutenberg Realty) almost 11 years ago

This blog does not allow anonymous comments