The last trip we made in Death Valley was 37 miles north on a little traveled road. It is on the north
eastern boundary of the national park. Scottys Castle was donated to California and eventually purchased
from the state by the National Park. Its original owner,
Albert Johnson graduated from Cornell with a mining engineering degree. But in 1892, just after graduation
he was heading west on a train with his father they were in a train accident. His father died and he broke his
back. His mining engineering career was over before it started. He ended up making millions in the insurance
business in Chicago. He met Scotty and was talked into investing in a gold mine which did not exist. He went
out to see the gold mine and fell in love with Death Valley. He bought as much property as he could and
started building the castle. Lost most of his money in the stock market crash of ’29.
Even though Scotty took him for a lot of money, they were still friends. Mr. Johnson did not like publicity and allowed Scotty to manage the property and claim it as his, even though it was not. Because of Scotty’s past, he had many stories to tell, most of them not completely true. But the Johnsons important visitors really enjoyed them.
Mr. Johnson’s engineering education proved very helpful during the building of the castle. The natural springs on the property, which produce over 2 million gallons a day, were used to generate electricity. He had electric lights and appliances before anyone else in the valley.
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