Death Valley Day 2 -- Scotty's Castle, Ubehebe Crater, Salt Creek

 

Scotty's Castle, built in the 1920s and 30s, was the home of Chicago insurance millionaire Albert Johnson, wife Bessie, and fast friend Walter "Scotty" Scott. It is built on a site with a spring that produces 200 gallons of water per minute. Johnson was trained as an engineer before taking up insurance, and apparently loved to do all manner of projects to improve his estate, including water powered electric lighting and laundry machines, a sizeable pipe organ, running hot (and cold) water, and evaporative cooling ("water walls" in many rooms). Johnson's initial relationship with Scott was being swindled by him in a "gold mine" investment. He is quoted saying that Scotty "repaid him in laughs". Many celebrity guests were entertained here. The site is a National Historic Site now. Guides in period costumes give tours.

Our tour guide was in a period costume. This is a requirement to maintain federal funding as a Historical site. The tour fee also supports the site.

 

Sun dial

 

The tiled panel left of the door is a "water wall" for evaporative cooling.

 

Left -- Scotty, Right -- Johnson

 

The "lower music room". The small keyboard to the left of the piano controls bells in a tower outside.

 

The "upper music room" has an organ with both a convention manual with four keyboards plus petalboard, and a music roll reader device to play back recorded rolls. The many pipes are behing the wood grill. It is in working order, and was demonstrated for us.

 

In this picture you can see half of the swimming pool, that was never completed, although many of the Spanish and local tiles that were partly collected for the project can be seen in the basement.

 

Ubehebe Crater, is only about 2000 years old. It is a volcanic explosion crater. It was windy enough to require bracing yourself against being bowled over, a common occurence at higher elevations in the Park.

 

Salt Creek has salinity 2 - 3 times that of sea water. There are small fish, "pup fish" which are descendents of fish that inhabited the lakes that were once here.

more Death Valley

California / Nevada 2012 index

home