Property prices in Santa Cruz County have steadily increased over the years. From a long-term perspective, this makes almost any time the right time to buy. Just think, for example, what might have been for the descendants of these people. If only they’d thought ahead!
Twenty-One Lots—Get ‘Em Quick!
In 1848, Elihu Anthony purchased fifteen vacant acres in Santa Cruz, near the San Lorenzo River. The land was up for sale from the United State government, which had recently gained California from Mexico.
Anthony built a hotel, a foundry (he was a blacksmith from Indiana), and a store. His hotel provided housing for other new arrivals, who were seeking work and a place to settle.
Next, Anthony subdivided the remaining land into twenty-one lots. These sold for around $100 each, becoming property for saloon keepers, hoteliers, and merchants. The bustling economic activity became a foundation for Santa Cruz’s growth.
An average of $100 for each of twenty-one lots was a tidy profit. Elihu’s original price for the fifteen acres? $15.62 total, including a $3.62 filing fee and the deed.
Great Deal on Stunning Parcel!
A couple years later, in 1850, the enormous Rancho San Agustin became the property of Hiram Scott. This stunning property comprised 4,437 acres, on which horses and cattle roamed.
Scott had traveled from Maine as a crewman. He jumped ship in Monterey Bay, settled into the rancho, and then brought members of his family to join him. His wife, Agnes Cummings Scott, was one of the first American pioneer women in the region.
In 1856, Scott deeded the land to his father and returned to his original California plan: Gold mining. He had paid only $20,000 for what is now Scotts Valley.
Gorgeous Rancho—Bring Your Horses!
In 1872, Claus Spreckels purchased a massive land parcel, Rancho Aptos, totally around 2,600 acres. The parcel comprised most of what is now Rio Del Mar, all of Seascape, and land extending north of today’s Highway 1.
Spreckels was no fool. He bought the land from Mexican grantee Rafael Castro, and used it to experiment with cultivating sugar beets. This endeavor expanded, though not at the Aptos location. Eventually, Spreckels established his successful Western Sugar Beet Company. The town bearing his name, in the Salinas Valley, grew around the operation.
Rumor hints that Spreckels played polo at what is now the Aptos Polo Grounds County Park. But polo didn’t arrive until the 1920’s, long after the Spreckels era. Spreckels did, however, race his world-famous horses on the property.
Any guesses about how much the purchase set Spreckels back? He paid around $81,000.
If you want to leave a fortune to your descendants, look no further than Santa Cruz County! Just resist the temptation to sell for a couple hundred years.