Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Death Valley :: Scottys Castle

Be forewarned – this post is graphic intensive – lots of photos!

Thursday, March 8th - - Continuing on with today's excursion, it was only a few miles further north to Scotty's Castle. Walter Scott was a shyster. Using the lure of untold millions of dollars worth of gold in his mine, he duped wealthy business men into financing his imaginary mine – though they didn't know the mine really didn't exist! He eventually incurred the favor of a wealthy business man from Chicago. Albert Johnson, in poor health found another kind of wealth from the dry desert air and an escape from the busy life he led. He enjoyed Scotty's company and the tales he told, whether true or not.

In the early 1920s Mr. Johnson began construction of a vacation home – his wife didn't care much for camping and sleeping on the ground but she enjoyed being in the desert. Within a short time, the palatial house became known as “Scotty's Castle” and the Johnson's went along with it all, perhaps getting a great deal of pleasure in the ruse they were playing on friends and guests who visited the ranch and listened to the stories told by Scotty.

You can read more about the story behind Scotty's Castle on the Death Valley website. It's a fun and interesting story!

As you are driving in from the south, through pretty much barren land, nestled in a small valley at the end of Death Valley National Park there is a little oasis, likely the only potable water in that end of the valley, and nearby is the site upon which Mr. Johnson chose to build his little house.

The courtyard between the two buildings with the clock tower in the background.

Inscribed above the door is “Death Valley Ranch” which is the name the Johnson's gave the place.

The interior of the house is dimly lit, the windows are covered with the original draperies some of which were made of leather. The draperies are closed to block out the sunlight and help preserve the furnishings. Oddly enough, photographs are allowed to be taken inside – even with flash!

The main entry-room was impressive with its floor to ceiling fireplace spanning two floors. The second floor has a balcony that goes completely around the entry-room.

The tour guides dress in period costumes from the 1930s, which is when the Johnson's opened their home to tour groups to help pay for the upkeep of the ranch.

Decorative tiles over the kitchen sink.

The kitchen stove, with copper cooking utensils. The little white appliance on the left of the shelf above the stove is a toaster. Their vacation may have been in a remote area, but the Johnson's had the latest and most modern features.

A floor level view of that fireplace, taken from the kitchen doorway.

A corner fireplace in one of the guest rooms upstairs.

The music room. To the left was a long alcove with a player organ. As part of the tour, they turn it on and play one song. It was beautiful and quite loud.

The elaborate ceiling of the music room. The cables are part of the original construction, used to keep the walls from bulging outward.

A beautiful stained glass window in the west wall of the music room.

Looking up the spiral staircase that leads to the top of the tower, which can be seen on the right side of the photo below.

A front view of Scotty's Castle. The pool in front goes the entire length of the house, and more. The tour guide said it had never been filled with water. If you look closely you can see a cross on the hill above and behind the house. Scotty's grave is to the left of the cross, he died in 1954.

I was amused by the “old prospector” weather vane atop the front tower, probably depicting Scotty on one of his legendary mining expeditions.


Carol said...

Another bucket list item, photos are beautiful.

Barbara Poole said...

Becky, you never have to warn me about pictures! Always nice to see them, and I esp. like your staircase shot.

Sue and Fred said...

What a house! And your pictures are awesome! We haven't ever made it to Death Valley. Looks like somewhere we will have to go. :)