Our Story

Welcome to our site! We are Joanne & Steve. After 20+ years working for a city school department and police department, we sold almost everything, bought an RV, and started living on the road with our three children. Joanne homeschools and works online.
What we have chosen is to live life as unencumbered as we possibly can and to spend time with our family, for our family, and as a family.
This website is a record of our travels. But, we also hope to educate, entertain, and inform others about RVing, roadschooling, and the great places we visit in this country.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Scotty's Castle; Death Valley California

Tucked in the North East corner of Death Valley National Park, amidst canyons, rock, scrub brush, and dry vastness, is an oasis of beauty and luxury.

Report written by Ian P. Hall

Map of Death Valley

Scotty's Castle Location


Walter E. Scott, also known as Death Valley Scotty, was born  on September 12, 1872, in Cynthiana, Kentucky to George and Anna Scott as the youngest of six children. When he was 16, he joined Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show as a stunt rider, and for the next twelve years, he toured America and Europe with it. When Scott married Ella Milius in New York, 1900, he left Buffalo Bill Cody’s show and moved to Cripple creek, Colorado. He attempted in vain to start a mining operation. Scott tried to return to the Wild West show, but they refused, so he tricked a rich New Yorker to fund his ‘mining operation’. For two years, Scott kept the funder posted about the condition of the ‘mine’, but never shipped any ores. 

When his sponsor had provided $5000 to the mining operation, Scott boarded a train to New York with a bag that was thought to contain $12,000 in gold dust.  In 1904, Scott left his previous patron for Edward A. Shedd and Albert M. Johnson. They invested over $4000 into Scott’s mining scam before the deal was closed.  In 1912, Scotty was arrested for his cons and was sent to jail for three years before moving to Twentynine palms in California. There, he lived quietly before Albert Johnson came to visit him. He forgave Scott for his tricks against him, and the two became friends. 

When construction began on the Johnson vacation home in Death Valley, Scotty claimed it was his being built for him, and that he owned it. Due to surveying mistake, it was revealed that Johnson did not own the land the castle was being built on. When the problem was fixed in 1935, it was too late to finish the castle, because Johnson’s insurance has gone bankrupt in 1933. Johnson willed the castle to Scott, and he lived there until his death in 1954. He was buried on the castle grounds.

Early home security...insert end of shotgun through hole of interior wall, fire.  Shot blast disperses on both sides of this metal decor, hitting anyone to its left and right.

Scotty’s castle is a mansion at the edge of Death Valley designed by Martin De Dubovay and built by Mat Roy Thompson. It gets its name from Walter E. Scott, a con man and prospector. However, Scott never owned the mansion, as it belonged to his friend Albert Johnson. The construction had been stopped because it was unaware to Johnson that the land they were building on was government property. When that matter was resolved, they continued construction for a short time until in 1929, the stock market crashed, sending the construction of the castle to a crashing halt. When the Johnsons died, they had nobody to take the castle. So they had willed it to the Gospel Foundation, with the provisions that Scott could live there as long as he desired. In 1970, the National park service bought the castle from the Gospel foundation for over $800,000. When Scott died in 1954, he was buried on the castle grounds, overlooking the mansion.

The castle got its water and electricity from Grapevine springs, which was about 300 feet above the castle. The water flow was used to operate a Felton waterwheel, which powered the generator and, in turn, provided electricity for the villa. The castle was never completed, and it lies unfinished to this day. It was turned into a tourist attraction, and thousands of people visit it each year.

Underground tunnels spanned the bowels of the castle, which lead to the power generators and the unfinished, tiled swimming pool.


You can even pay your respects to Scotty's Grave.

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