"Death" Valley Scotty
Born in Cynthiana, Kentucky, on September 20, 1872, Walter E. Scott spent his early childhood traveling the harness racing circuit with his family. At the age of 11, he left home to join his two brothers on a ranch near Wells, in northeastern Nevada. Because of his experience with horses, Walter signed on with a horse drive to California in 1884. When he joined a crew surveying the California-Nevada boundary later that year, he made his first visit to Death Valley, beginning his lifelong love with this hot, barren region.
In 1888, at the age of 16, Walter joined Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show as a stunt rider. There he learned how to perform, touring the U.S. and Europe for the next 12 years. Unable to rejoin the Wild West Show in 1902 after a marriage and a failed stretch of gold mining, Walter utilized his performance skills to convince the wealthy to grubstake his fictitious gold mine in Death Valley. By 1904, after more than $5,000 had been invested, Walter boarded an eastbound train supposedly carrying a bag holding $12,000 in gold dust. When the bag was mysteriously “stolen” before he reached Philadelphia, newspapers eagerly picked up the story, which launched Scott on another of his lifelong loves – his sprees of self-promotion. Walter was soon boasting he could break the rail speed record from Los Angeles to Chicago.
On July 9, 1905, he arrived in Chicago in just 44 hours and 54 minutes, and his train did indeed break the existing record for the 2, 265-mile journey. “We got there so fast that nobody had time to sober up,” was Walter’s description of the trip. Albert Johnson met Scott at the event and began to finance the factious gold mine. He was a lifelong supporter of Scotty, despite the lack of a mine. Johnson eventually decided to settle in Death Valley on Scotty’s land and build Death Valley Castle.
On January 7, 1948, Albert Johnson died at the age of 76, leaving his ranch forever unfinished. Scotty lived in the Castle and each night regaled paying guests with his exploits over the past century. He had reached the pinnacle of his fame, even becoming a tourist attraction in his own right. On January 5, 1954, Walter Scott, died at the age of 82. He was buried on the rocky hill northwest of the guest house at Scotty’s Castle next to his dog Windy.
(The Death Valley Scotty room features 1 King Size bed, a single lavatory, & tub with a hand shower. All rooms have wired and wireless internet & individual heat/ac.-Facing East towards Broadway and the Railroad Tracks)