Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Photo of the Day: Welcome to Scotty's Castle

Like so many places in Death Valley National Park, "Scotty's Castle" is larger than life: built as a vacation home by wealthy entrepreneur Albert Johnson, but popularized by the antics and stories of Walter Scott, better known as "Death Valley Scotty." Scotty was, by various accounts, shrewd, inventive, or downright crooked--and those who knew him best would have allowed all three. He rode for a time with Buffalo Bill, mined borax, and claimed to have found the mother lode of gold, a venture that attracted investment dollars from Mr. Johnson. The fact that there was no gold eventually became clear, but by then Johnson and Scotty had become unlikely friends, and Scotty was a frequent and welcome guest in the home Johnson built in the Spanish Colonial style on an oasis east of Death Valley. Johnson said Scotty repaid his investments in laughs, and he encouraged the fable that his "Death Valley Ranch" was actually "Scotty's Castle." Today, the Park Service provides daily tours of the property, and you can see the beautiful and intricate workmanship as well as the progressive use of technologies like hydroelectric power, indoor plumbing, and electric lights.

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