Scottys Castle is located in Death Valley National Park. Scotty (Walter Scott) was born in 1872. As a young boy, he ran away from his home in Kentucky to join his brother in Nevada. Starting around 1890, he went to work in the Buffalo Bill Wild west Show. The castle that bears Scottys name may have been built by him or by his associate Mr. Albert Johnson in the late 1920s. Scotty died in 1954, and was laid to rest on a hill overlooking the famous home that bears his name. The castle now belongs to the National Park Service, whose job is to protect and preserve the Castle for present and future generations to enjoy.
Later, I received E-Mail that said:
Scotty's Castle in Death Valley has a much more interesting real story than you describe. Walter "Scotty" Scott was an amazingly clever and genial con man of sorts. He did start as a trick rider with Buffalo Bill's show (though born in Kentucky, not the West) but became a member of a scouting party that mapped the actual dividing border between Nevada and California in Death Valley and gained fame as somebody who knew it better than anyone else. Because of this, he used to get rich "dudes" in the East to sponsor him in alleged gold-mining expeditions and was reputed to have a "secret" gold mine there. In fact, he was always broke, but one of his "marks" actually became his friend. That man was a very wealthy but physically infirm Chicago banker who insisted on actually going WITH Scotty to the desert to see what his investment was buying.
They didn't find any gold, but the dry weather helped the Banker's health, and he actually built the amazing home known as "Scotty's Castle" which is one of the most unique and custom residences ever made. It became a major hangout for Hollywood stars in the 1920's and 30's and they spread the rumor that Scotty's fabled but non-existant gold mine was actually in the basement, and when guests were there, they'd have the mexican laborers who worked there make banging and digging noises in the basement to further the illusion.
It was all a genial game, but when both men died, the Banker's wife gave the whole property to an evangelical church group she belonged to and moved away--they used it for retreats. Then it turned out that somehow the surveying crew that had drawn out the property lines had made errors, and in fact the house was located on US Govt. land as part of Death Valley National Monument. The Church group did a swap with the FDR administration, giving it the house and land in return for some other land further away which they then sold at a profit, and the Castle became part of the tourist path of wonders that is Death Valley---nowadays the parks service rangers do an amazing job, actually dressing in 1930's period costumes and playing the living-history roles of guests of Scotty from the time. He's buried there, btw, up on a hill overlooking his "Castle" and it is a VERY wonderful place to visit--about a 3 hour drive from Las Vegas.
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On 6-4-11, I received e-mail with these links:
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Photo courtesy of Barbara Gay