Tuesday, March 27, 2012

This post of the blog is going to take several pages so be sure and look back on the blog to some of the older posts as there will be many photos of the Death Valley area, area great place to visit.

Here is a Panoramic shot to start out the post! the posts run from our last day to our first day if you follow this backwards thru the older posts. Death Valley is a very interesting place to visit and we plan on going back again to see more of it.

Scotty’s Castle

For those that have never heard of Scotty’s castle, it is named after a guy that was called Death Valley Scotty. He had been a cowboy out in Wyoming back in the late 1800’s and was in Buffalo Bills Wild West Show for 10 to 12 years as a Cowboy, he traveled all over the US and into Europe in the show until he was late getting to the opening of the show
One year and was fired.
 He traveled out to Death Valley and was supposed to be a miner, but what he actually was, was a con man, but a very likeable con man. He got many people to invest in his “Gold Mine” in Death Valley but never paid any returns and people invested lots of money with him.
One of these people was a millionaire called Albert Johnson. He was very educated mining engineer and made lots of money. After a train crash that broke his back in several places he had to change careers and became a very successful insurance man and owned his own insurance company.
 After meeting Walter “Death Valley” Scotty he decided to invest money in the gold mine that Scotty claimed he had. After several years of no returns and all kinds of excuses by Scotty, he decided to travel to Death Valley himself and look at the mine.
He eventually liked the area so much that he built the mansion that was to become Scotty’s Castle. Him and Scotty became very good friends, even tho Scotty had conned him out of lots of money and he actually took care of Scotty and his estranged wife and son and Scotty actually had his own bedroom at the Castle and when people visited he told them that he owned the castle and built it with all the money from his gold mine.

He was such a great story teller that Mr Johnson kept Scotty around just for the entertainment. Mr and Mrs Johnson eventually ran low on money due to several reasons
And started conducting tours and also letting people stay at the mansion for a fee.

Mrs Johnson”Bessie” died in an auto accident in 1943 and her husband died 4 years later. Scotty lived another 8 years and is buried on the property above the castle.

As you can see from the photos this place is a real nice “Castle” they started building it in 1922 and never really finished it as they ran low on money. The major part of the castle
Was completed by 1929 to 1930. All of the furnishing are the original furnishings from when the Johnsons had the home. A lot of the furnishing were imported from overseas, the tiles were made in Spain and Mexico, the wood was Redwood from the north coast of California.

The swimming pools were never finished but the hole in the ground for the pool was huge if they had every gotten it done the pool would have been a least 200 ft long and probably 50 ft wide at the narrow part and 100 at the wide part. The castle was energy sell sufficient, they had a solar system for hot water and their own electric generator plant that was generated by water being forced thru pipes to turn the water turbine to generate the electricity. Then it was stored in banks of batteries. There is a spring that runs thru the property that runs at 200 gallons a minute.
Here are the pictures of the house and grounds. it is quite a story and if you get a chance you could look up some more info on the internet to give you a more in depth look at the history. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scotty's_Castle

an interesting timepiece and it was accurate.

This chest dated from 1500 and was imported from Spain, it depicted a story of Queen Isabella sending Christopher Columbus on them mission that ending with him discovering America.

Ornate bathroom that had imported tiles from Spain, Mexico and italy. Tile setters were brought up from Southern California to do the tile work.

very nice Organ in the music room.

Player Theatre Pipe organ that 1121 pipes that were hidden behind a wall but boards moved to let the music into the room thru a decorative screen. It still works too.

Scotty on the left and Albert Johnson on the right.

Roadrunner with a lizard for his meal. They run around a lot but hardly ever fly.

This was the temperature one day we were riding our bikes, the official temp of the day was 94, but that is in the shade. It was the hottest day of the year so far this year and it didnt cool off that night till real late.

This is the sidewinder rattlesnake that lives here in Death Valley. It is only a little over 1 ft long and mostly comes out after it cools off in the evening and into the night. It makes a J shape in the sand when it travels and hunts for kangaroo rats or other things to eat. the next picture shows the tracks that it makes, you can see the J shape.

This is the Death Valley Pupfish. it is only found in one place in the valley and its lifespan is only one year so it is considered endangered as there are not that many of the fish and they live in water that can get up to 112 degrees during the summer months. 

this coyote was posing along the road so I took his picture!

 Views from Dantes Point.

Here are several views from Dantes point, it is 5480 ft above the valley floor which is 280 ft below sea level. You can see The area of the valley extends for miles, It is over 100 miles long and several miles wide. When it is hot you would not be able to cross the valley without a lot of water as you would dehydrate to quickly. If it is summertime you are not even able to go outside for very long periods of time as the ground temp is too high. It has been measured at over 200 degrees on days that the air temp in the shade is 120. One year they had 154 days of temps above 120.

This is the original lobby area of the Furnace Creek Inn. It was built in 1927 to replace the income lost from the Borax mining coming to a stop in the valley. the hotel is now a luxury hotel and cost $350 a night on up.

The garden area of the hotel.

The swimming pool.
This is all I took of the hotel, I realized that i did not take a picture of the hotel sitting on the hill, but it blends in to the background due to the construction and garden covering most of the view of it so that it does not stand out too much over the desert.

 This is some pictures from the museum that shows some of the minerals in the moutains and the valleys from around this area and into Nevada. A brochure listed almost 10,000 mine locations in Death Valley from years past. There are still a couple of mines operating somewhere in the park and several just outside the park. Of course Borax was the main thing mined in the 1800’s on the valley floor. Borax is used in many different things from glass, pottery, some metals, laundry soap and many other things. The main
Borax mining in the US now takes place in Boron CA outside of Bakersfield. There is a large open pit mine there.

From the looks of the different shades of minerals in the dirt and rocks in these mountains there are many minerals around this area.

This a  log hauler, the wheels were about 8 ft tall.

 Road grader
The wheels on this machine were made with solid wood. they must have weighed at least 1000 pds

Old Diesel electric generator


20 Mule team, the tank on the back was their water for drinking. they had to haul their own as there were going 165 miles with the load and there was long areas without water.

20 Mule Team wagon team, each wagon carried about 33,000 pounds of  Borax mineral. Those were tough mules!!

Here is Red Cathedral 

We drove up to Stovepipe Wells area, near the sand dunes. After listening to a talk from the ranger about the sand dunes we drove 2.5 miles up a dirt road to Mosaic canyon and hiked the canyon. We took about 1.5 gal of water each with us, plus another 1.5 gal in the truck. We drank most of  what we took with us and then gave away a half a gallon to some kids that decided to walk up the 2.5 mile road and into the canyon with 1 quart of water total. Needless to say they were thirsty as it was 86 by the time we got back to the truck at 1pm. 
 The hike was great, some real challenging areas with slick rocks and my knee but we made it. We think we did a total about 2.5 miles round trip.

This plant is hanging onto the rocks on the side of the wash area. Hard to imagine that it gets enough water to survive and grow. real tough plants here in the desert.