Kraig’s Cave Creek Commentary

February 2018

In this brief commentary, Kraig Nelson combines insights into Cave Creek’s history and the current real estate market in Cave Creek, Scottsdale, and Carefree.  The Peak thanks the Cave Creek Museum for their long-standing support of the Desert Foothills Scenic Drive.


Cave Creek Museum LogoKraig’s History Highlights

From the Cave Creek Museum
Kraig Nelson, docent

On February 14, 1912 everyone was excited in the territory of Arizona. Sometime during the day, Arizona was going to become the forty-eighth State! The news was to be delivered by telegraph. Some people put events on hold, until this day, so the event would happen on Statehood Day. Aaron and Carrie Goldberg’s daughter Hazel, and her future husband Joseph Melczer, held off their wedding ceremony until this day. They were going to become the first married couple in the State of Arizona (and they were)! The Goldberg family was a prosperous and influential family in Phoenix; they owned the Goldberg Clothing Store. They also owned one of the most prestigious homes in Phoenix we know today as the Rosson House at Heritage Square, the wedding’s location. This 1895 Victorian masterpiece had all the latest amenities: hot and cold running water, indoor plumbing, electric lights, and a telephone. The three-year-old ring-bearer was described as very cute because he was dressed as Cupid, with a bow and arrow, a quiver of arrows, silver leaves, and pink flowers. His name was Barry Goldwater.


 Kraig’s Realty Reality

February 2018

Multiple Listing Service (ARMLS) data published  January, 2017

Kraig R. Nelson, Associate Broker


Sold volume (dollar amount) was 105.46% lower; active listings [99] were 30.77% lower; and the median sold price [$699,900] was 34.34% higher, compared to one year ago.

Average days on market were 122. 21 residential units closed escrow.

Cave Creek-

Sold volume (dollar amount) was 26.46% lower; active listings [276] were 5.80% lower; and the median sold price [$419,654] was 2.14% lower, compared to one year ago.

Average days on market were 71. 52 residential units closed escrow.


Sold volume (dollar amount) was 12.79% higher; active listings [2,591] were 14.60% lower; and the median sold price [$437,500] was 9.65% higher, compared to one year ago.

Average days on market were 94. 666 residential units closed escrow.

Phoenix (city only) –

Sold volume (dollar amount) was 8.30% higher; active listings [3,560] were 6.61% lower; and the median sold price [$229,900] was 8.32% higher, compared to one year ago.

Average days on market were 67. 1,718 residential units closed escrow.

Kraig’s Comments-

• Distressed sales (short sales and lender owned) represent 2.20% of the total sales volume.
• There is a 2.83-month supply of residential inventory in the Phoenix Metro Area. A balanced market for buyers and sellers is considered to be about 6 months.
• Total residential inventory is 11.20% lower [20,009 units] than one year ago.
• Entire Phoenix Metro Area: median sold price is $246,200; 8.50% higher than one year ago. Average days on market were 70.
• Average sold price compared to original list price is 96.40% in the Phoenix Metro Area. This means a home listed for $400,000 sells for about $385,600.
• Production new-home “spec” (or speculation) count is 2,171; 155 fewer than 6 months ago. (from Ultimate New Homes Newsletter)
• Total Phoenix Metro residential units sold and closed last month: 7,070. This is .50% higher than one year ago.
• Total dollar amount for Phoenix Metro residential units sold and closed: $2,151,890,957.00 (that’s 2 billion, 152 million- rounded for conversation). This is 8.79% higher than one year ago.

Kraig’s Past History Highlights

January 2018. Rancho Manana Golf Resort in Cave Creek was once a dude ranch, starting in 1944 (land purchased in 1943) and closing in 1955. It was called Rancho Manana, hence today’s name. A dude ranch allowed a person to immerse oneself in the “cowboy and cowgirl” way of life for a short time. It was an exhilarating escape for “city-folks.” Two couples were the owners and operators. Ted and China Loring were wealthy people from Chicago who financed the business. Romaine (Romy) and Jean Lowdermilk were the operators. Romy Lowdermilk is acknowledged as the “Father of Dude Ranching in Arizona.” The tall, handsome, and charming Romy, in his western regalia, made all guests feel right at home. Romy started out in 1911, at the age of 21, homesteading a 160-acre cattle ranch in Wickenburg he named the Kay-El-Bar after his mother Katherine. In 1918 his Wickenburg ranch became Arizona’s first dude ranch.
December 2017. Metropolitan Phoenix is named after the mythical bird that experienced a rebirth after burning. One of the founders of Phoenix who was known as “Lord” Darrell Duppa (Brian Phillip Darrell Duppa) is credited with naming the 1867 hamlet (he named Tempe and founded New River as well). Phoenix was officially recognized May 4, 1868 by the Yavapai Board of Supervisors (Maricopa County didn’t exist until February 14, 1871).

The dapper yet tough “Lord” Duppa was educated at Cambridge University (he was an Englishman). He spoke five languages and could recite Shakespeare for hours; he knew ancient classics and mythology and was shot three times by the Apaches. Duppa, along with the founder of Phoenix, Jack Swilling, observed evidence of an ancient civilization (the Hohokam) and their vast canal system. The story of the beautiful, crimson and gold feathered bird, which would be consumed by fire and rise to live another 500 years was a metaphor for the new town’s rebirth. The “Phoenix” myth was first addressed in the 8th century BC. The rebirth story was part of Chinese, Egyptian, Arabian, Greek, and Persian mythology.

November 2017. The New Mexico Territory was created September 9, 1850. It essentially contained the modern States of New Mexico and Arizona. The New Mexico Territory resulted in land acquired from Mexico during the Mexican American War (1846-1848). The Territory acquired more land in a $10 million-dollar real estate transaction finalized in 1854. The transaction was known as the Gadsden Purchase. The first territory known as “Arizona” was the Confederate Territory of Arizona, established 2/14/1862. It was the lower half of today’s New Mexico and Arizona south of the 34th parallel. On 2/24/1863 President Lincoln proclaimed “Arizona” a territory with the current north/south boundary with New Mexico at the 109th meridian. Arizona became the 48th State on 2/14/1912, exactly fifty years after becoming a Confederate Territory.

October 2017. The original Cave Creek Road ran along the creek with the same name since 1873. Continual flooding forced Cave Creek Road to shift east to its current location in 1927. In 1928, a store was constructed in the shadow of Black Mountain on the “new” Cave Creek Road. Not so surprisingly, the store was called the Black Mountain Store. The store sold groceries; dry goods like fabric, thread, coffee, flour, tea and toiletries; Native American jewelry; gas and oil. It was also the outpost for the Maricopa County Free Library. In later years the store became one of the top epicurean destinations in metropolitan Phoenix; the restaurant was called Trois Amis. This building is the oldest commercial building in Cave Creek! You can carefully explore this historic building today, especially if you’re hungry for pizza. Today, it’s known as Oregano’s Pizza Bistro, the fourteenth opened in metropolitan Phoenix, in 2014.

September 2017. The prehistoric Hohokam are known for their extensive canals in the Phoenix Basin. They are also known for their kiln-fired ceramic pottery and their legacy of pecked-petroglyphs found and appreciated valley wide. Many are unaware the Hohokam were proficient at jewelry-making using shells from the Gulf of California. Historian Rose Houk states, “…the craft took on aspects of an industry… the exquisitely finished pieces were exported to…neighbors- the Anasazi [now Ancestral Puebloans], Mogollon, and Sinagua…so widespread was the trade…the Hohokam are regarded as shell merchants.” The Hohokam made a 400-mile, round-trip-journey on foot collecting their favorite shell, the Glycymeris, a bivalve clam. Archaeologist Ronald Beckwith states Hohokam used no fewer than sixty-two species of marine shells for their jewelry.

August 2017. Sunday, November 5, 1871 was the end of the line for six passengers riding the Arizona Stage Line about six miles outside of Wickenburg, another died later, and one passenger lived to tell the story. This frightening event is known as the Wickenburg Massacre of 1871. The retinue included one stage-driver, six men, and one twenty-four-year-old woman. They were attacked by Mohave-Apaches (Yavapai) and no valuables were stolen. Gravely wounded, two escaped that terrifying day including the only woman passenger, Miss Mollie Sheppard. Mollie eventually made it to California but died of infected wounds per the only survivor, Mr. William Kruger. Each had been shot three times. Mollie and William were armed with revolvers and managed to wound two attackers. During their harrowing escape, Molly left behind expensive jewelry and $15,000 in cash ($300,588.00 in 2017). She had recently sold her successful business in Prescott, her brothel.

July, 2017. The Cave Creek mining district, one hundred and forty-four square miles, was known for gold, silver, and later “red gold” we know as copper. Early miners noticed ledges of beautiful jasper and onyx jutting from areas near the creek (Cave Creek), about twenty miles northeast of the town of Cave Creek. Onyx and jasper are forms of quartz. Early Eastern investors purchased the deposits and hauled the slabs to Phoenix in horse-drawn wagons; from there, sent to Los Angles by railroad for cutting and polishing. Cave Creek onyx was used to decorate buildings found at the Chicago World’s Fair (also known as the Columbian Exposition) in 1893. The White House received a gift from the Cave Creek mining district via the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce during the Coolidge administration (1923-1929). It was a beautiful vase made from Cave Creek onyx. The late Cave Creek historian Frances C. Carlson believes it’s still at the White House.

June, 2017. Yes, there is a stream called Cave Creek. It’s old; it’s very old. Two geologists, Peter L. Doorn and Troy L. Pewe in their 1989 tome (612 pages), Geologic and Gravimetric Investigations of the Carefree Basin tell us the ancient stream began to flow about five million years ago (the Pliocene Epoch). Additionally, they tell us Cave Creek has had the same flow for at least two million and perhaps three million years. The eminent geologists state the original stream was approximately 300 feet higher than today. They have identified and named, four levels or terraces above Cave Creek from the highest (oldest) to the lowest (youngest): Little Elephant (Pliocene Epoch); Mesquite Tank, Cahava Ranch, and Hidden View were “down-cutting” during the Pleistocene Epoch, ending 11,700 years ago; and finally, Cave Creek as we know it today.

May, 2017. The western cowboy is an icon of the old west, especially when we think of the many important Cave Creek cattle ranching families like the Cartwrights. Many are aware cattle were introduced to the New World by the Spanish during Christopher Columbus’ second voyage in 1493. Cattle were introduced to the Iberian Peninsula (Spain/Portugal) by the invading Moors starting in AD 711.  But, what about the history of cattle? Today scientists are divided whether cattle developed in eastern Europe/western Asia or on the Indian subcontinent, or both. Scientists do agree the domestication of a large wild bovine, the auroch, became modern cattle; the process of domestication started about 10,000 to 11,000 years ago. The auroch was fierce and about twice the size of cattle today. Late Paleolithic people started selecting the smallest and most docile aurochs for breeding; manageable size and docility resulted. In 1627, the last auroch became extinct in Poland.

April, 2017. The covered wagon, known as the “prairie schooner,” was the iconic mode of transportation for almost a half-million brave pioneers, heading West, from 1836 to 1869, the year the transcontinental railroad was completed. The covered wagon was a smaller and lighter version of the Conestoga Wagon first developed around 1750 in the Conestoga Valley of Pennsylvania by Dutch and German settlers. It was a five to six-month challenging journey, about 2,000 miles. Here’s the minimum shopping list for one adult: flour (and yeast)/200 pounds, meat/75 pounds, coffee/15 pounds, sugar/25 pounds, salt/10 pounds, and citric acid, commonly known as vitamin C (to avoid scurvy). A chicken coop was attached to the side of the wagon and eggs were carried, immersed in flour, to avoid breakage during the bumpy trek.

March, 2017. The pre-Columbian native Americans identified as Hohokam are known as extraordinary canal-builders and the Valley’s initial farmers. It was the rebuilding of their canals, allowing a new culture to rise again that led to the name of Phoenix (the mythical bird). They were living along the Salt River by approximately 300 B.C. and dissipated as a thriving culture by about A.D. 1450. According to anthropologist Dr. Stephan Plog, the Hohokam incorporated a concept of polycropping, which included planting maize (corn), beans, and squash in one mound. In Native American parlance, this concept was known as the “Three Sisters.” The king of crops was maize; however, maize lacks a required amino acid called niacin (B3). Without niacin, a deadly condition arises called pellagra. By adding beans and squash this harmful dietary issue was addressed and a healthy combination of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, and protein were provided.

 February, 2017. Many are aware that Tom Darlington and K.T. Palmer were the founders of Carefree. There was another person who was instrumental with the early development of Carefree, his name was Leslie “Les” Rhuart.  Les was locally educated at Brophy High, Phoenix College, and finally the University of Arizona where he earned an engineering degree. He worked with Tom Darlington at AiResearch, in Phoenix, where Mr. Darlington was plant manager of the engineering company during WW ll. When the Carefree Development Corporation was formed (hence the town’s name), Mr. Rhuart was the vice-president, Tom Darlington was president, and K. T. Palmer was secretary-treasurer. Les was the president of the Carefree Water Company, Desert Forest golf course, and the Desert Forest Inn (now, the Carefree Inn). Additionally, he was involved with the development of the Carefree County Club, known today as The Boulders Resort and Spa.

January 2017. The first Cave Creek school was the classic one-room building encompassing first through eighth grade, taught by one teacher. The school was built in 1886 near the Cave Creek stream on a property called Cave Creek Station. This was the first Anglo settlement in the area established in 1877. In 1899, Alfred C. Lockwood was the twenty-four-year-old teacher at the seminal school, but he was a student as well. This was a time when law schools were not the gateway to a law profession, so Alfred was studying law as a legal apprentice, this was called “reading law.” Mr. Lockwood was admitted to the Arizona Bar in 1902; his stellar career included esteemed  positions as the eighth, eleventh, and fourteen Chief Justice of the Arizona Supreme Court in 1929, 1935, and 1941 respectively.

Related Articles and Websites

Cave Creek Museum Website, Visit Website

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Author: Kraig Nelson

Kraig Nelson, Associate Broker, has been an award-winning real-estate professional since 1984 and a Desert Foothills/Scottsdale resident since 1977. Active in the community, he is the historian and a board member of the Cave Creek Museum and a docent for the Desert Foothills Land Trust. Kraig has won The Peak magazine's annual “Write Stuff Contest” four times. You may reach Kraig at 602.527.2161 or

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