Today I rode a borrowed bike for three hours through old town Alexandria, Virginia. Neither my history nor my geography knowledge had prepared me for the size and beauty of this city. It is wonderfully preserved and wonderfully expanded and newly built. Some of those old town houses sell for over three million. The house my son rents twenty minutes bike ride from the center of town is an undistinguished brick place from the fifties and sells for half a million.

I know house prices are falling. But they are still amazingly high by comparison with days of yore. And by comparison with the purchasing power of young newly weds.

Which leaves you wondering if there is money to be made buying property anywhere. I suspect that there is, but in unusual places, namely old mining towns.

I recall Salmon, Idaho. As its name implies, here is a place where you can fish for salmon and trout in a clear local river. Up the valley en route to the mine are log houses and acres of property looking over snow-covered peaks. If you are not put off by the mine, now closed and perfectly reclaimed, these properties are a bargain for the second home buyer.

If you do a Google blog search with keyword mining you get enthusiastic article about Kellogg, Idaho. This is another of those incredible places where mines gave rise to towns. This is another of those towns where property is pricey but, in my opinion, still likely to go up as a result of pressure for second home buyers.

If you prefer a certain wild loneliness, try Naturita or Slickrock in Colorado. I have often been tempted to buy in Silver City, New Mexico.

But these are just the obvious places. My suggestion to the really imaginative and bold of mining investors is to seek out the old mining towns in beautiful places and get in before the in-crowd.