Most of the early US recessions -- those in the late 1700s and early in the 19th Century -- were based on speculation in land or commodities such as cotton. Land speculation was due in large part to assumptions about which areas of the country would be the most productive for products that ranged from crops to timber. These assumptions, in turn, were based on the location of land relative to transportation, whether by water, road or rail. Other land speculation was based more simply on where a commodity or metal could be found. Gold was discovered in California in 1848, initiating the California Gold Rush. The land which held the gold was extremely valuable for a time. That did not last -- not even for a decade.