Thursday, March 18, 2010

Scotty's Castle

Fri - Mar. 12th

Scotty's Castle is not part of Death Valley, but is owned and operated by the Park Service. It was not actually Walter Scott's castle, but was built by
Albert and Bessie Johnson. Scotty swindled Albert
by selling him shares in a nonexistent gold mine.

When Albert came out to see the mine, Scotty managed to avoid showing it to him, but Albert fell in love with the desert and very much enjoyed the time he spent with Scotty and his entertaining stories. So they became friends and Scotty told everyone the castle was built with gold from his mine.

It is at 3,000 feet above sea level, so the climate is very pleasant. There is a natural spring that provided enough water to run all their mechanical and maintainance needs with water wheels. The railroad was closing down in the midst of the construction. Albert Johnson kept them in business an extra six months hauling nothing but
supplies for his vacation home. Before he was able to finish his home, he found out there was a problem with the survey and he didn't actually own the land he was building on. He actually owned land a mile away. He immediately halted construction and spent the next seven years fighting with congress to get it straightened out.

By the time he finally got everything sorted out, he had sort of lost interest. There was the depression and WWII and then his wife died. He tried to sell it to the National Park Service, but they had no money at the time. So he gave it in trust to a gospel group to sell to the goverment at a later date. The government bought it in 1967 for $800,000.

While we were having a picnic lunch between tours, an old car club showed up. The guy in the red car used his car horn to whistle at me. Getting whistled at by an old guy in an old car, it just doesn't get any better than that!

There were two tours given by park rangers dressed in 1930s period costumes. One tour thru the main house and one in the two underground levels to see how everything was built and powered. They were both very interesting.

This is the shallow end of the pool with a swim thru tunnel to the deep end that is just as big. It was never finished due to the halt in construction, but all the fancy tiles to finish it stood stacked next to the road where they were delivered for 54 years. Now they are all stored in the basement, because a National Park is not allowed to change anything from it's original state for historical reasons. So the beautiful pool will never be finished and the tiles will never be used. What a waste.
A little more about Death Valley tomorrow.

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