Castle For A King At Death Valley

photo of the week for Sunday, 2011, March 27
Photographer: Kurt Repanshek

Scotty's Castle might have been the brainchild of a desert rat, but it's fit for a king.

Walter Scott, Death Valley Scotty, convinced everyone that he had
built the castle with money from his rich secret mines in the area.
Albert Mussey Johnson actually built the house as a vacation getaway for
himself and his wife Bessie. Scotty was the mystery, the cowboy, and
the entertainer, but he was also a friend. Albert was the brains and the
money.

Not only is this Spanish-influenced mansion seemingly out of place in the high desert, but its design seemingly pushed the technological limits of the 1920s. Not only did Albert Johnson see that there was a solar heating system at work, but he also had a Pelton water wheel
turbine installed to generate electricity for the place. Too, an evaporative cooling system employed indoor waterfalls and even wet burlap to keep things inside the castle relatively cool on those 100-degree summer days.

On the Web: www.nps.gov/deva