Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Scotty's Castle

Well unfortunately when you click on the photos it takes you to the whole picasa album beginning from the beginning.

At the north end of Death Valley is something you just don't think you would see.  Back in the 1920's a rich Chicago businessman had begun construction on a huge winter home. Construction began on Scotty's Castle in 1922, and cost between $1.5 and $2.5 million. Prospector, performer, and con man Walter Scott also known as “Death Valley Scotty”, convinced Chicago millionaire Albert Johnson to invest in his gold mine in the Death Valley area.

 A unique friendship had formed between this conservative insurance executive and this rogue cowboy and this businessman had become smitten with the west. His wife was from the bay area and when she came to visit this oasis in the desert she told him that, if he wanted her to visit again, he would have to build her a castle.  Literally!  More can be found about Scotty's castle here.

We drove up the north end of the valley and took the tours.  Two tours.  The main tour showed us the story of Scotty and the main building and the underground tour showed us behind the scenes.  Fascinating.
The springs of Grapevine Canyon provided the water supply for the ranch and were used to generate electricity. The springs, located about 300 feet (91 m) higher than the villa, generated enough water flow and pressure to turn a Pelton wheel, which ran the generator that furnished the villa's electricity. The power was regulated and backed up by a large bank of nickel-iron batteries in the house's tunnels.
Batteries used to store electrcity generated by a water turbine using water from spring.
Kept the lights on all day and night.

Each door  and gate had individually black smithed ornaments
The walls were over 2 ft thick in most areas so provided cool summers and warm winters inside

Construction was completed on the main building and served as a wonderful respite for many of the Hollywood set back in the 30's.  

Courtyard inside castle
Construction ceased in the 30's when a full government survey of the park revealed Mr. Johnson's land claim was actually 5 miles to the north.  He spent several years negotiating with Congress to obtain a variance to build and finally gave up and moved to Los Angeles for his health.  The National Park Service took over, and now maintains the place for all to view.  Kind of a desert Hearst Castle but on smaller scale.

Tile from Southern California

wood stove in kitchen.  Love the tile everywhere
The building on the left is the guest house which also houses a huge pipe organ still playing music
Courtyard from above

-Blessings from the Road
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