This is the view from Casa del Sol at Hearst Castle, looking down towards San Simeon bay. Everyone has probably heard stories about William Randolph Hearst, the largest landholder in the US at one point, ‘you provide the photographs I’ll provide the war’, yellow journalism and Citizen Kane. But did you know that his father, the man who made the Hearst fortune, George Hearst was a poor nearly-illiterate farm boy from Missouri with only two years schooling? George Hearst’s father even died deep in debt when Hearst was 26, so George went to work in a lead mine to take care of his mother and sister. He found he liked mining, so once he’d paid his fathers debts and gotten enough for his family to live on, he and his cousins organized a wagon train to go strike gold in California. He’d work his claim in the day and struggle to read through books on geology at night. After 10 years of working veins of ore, he’d gotten enough money together to buy a half stake in the Gould and Curry Mine for $450 based on his studies of geology. This was a very fortuitous decision. It was the largest silver strike in the US, the famed Comstock lode. Not one to rest on his laurels, he then bought an interest in the newly discovered Ophir mine, which was the richest mine ever in the US, I believe, and produced some 70,000 tons of silver, as well as an enormous quantity of gold. It made $55,000,000 profit (remember this is 1870s) over the course of its operation. George Hearst was now one of the richest men in America. He decided to turn his attention to philanthropy and politics, but first he married a schoolmarm, presumably to catch him up on his reading. He started his political career by representing San Francisco in the California State Legislature and ended up as a Democratic Senator for California. He was apparently quite well liked, despite being known as a coarse-tongued, tobacco-and-whiskey miner in the middle of all these high society ballrooms, he known for his honesty, energy and and humor as well as being tall and strikingly handsome. So that’s how the Hearsts got so rich.
*raises eyebrow* That's an interesting story of rags to riches. I'm impressed at what he was able to do with his knowledge of geology. It can't have been an accident that he invested in the best potential mines of his day.