Scotty’s Castle - Death Valley, California
(T)he popular 32,000-square-foot compound was built in 1927 by Albert Johnson, a wealthy Chicago insurance executive, who constructed Death Valley Ranch for his health. How Johnson’s ranch came to be called Scotty’s Castle, is a tribute to Walter E. Scott (1872-1954), who during a lifetime of shameless self-promotion, hustling and swindling, came to be known as Death Valley Scotty. -Bob Katz
Scotty rarely stayed in the castle itself, preferring to stay in a small bungalow that Johnson built for him at Grapevine Springs on the edge of the valley. His wife, Jack, and their son, Walter Junior, stayed in another bungalow provided by Johnson in Reno. Work on the castle continued until 1931, when it was discovered that, because of surveying error, Johnson did not own the land on which the castle had been built. The error had been discovered in the run up to making Death Valley a national park at the close of President Herbert Hoover’s term in office in 1933. The problem was finally resolved in 1935, but too late for Johnson to finish the building. His insurance company had gone into receivership in 1933 and he did not have the funds necessary to complete the plans. Johnson and his wife willed Death Valley Ranch to a religious organization and wrote into the will that Scotty should live there as long as he wished. Scotty’s castle was never completed, but Scotty continued to live there until his death on January 5, 1954. He is buried at Death Valley Ranch on a hill above “his” castle as per his expressed wish.
I urge you all to read the sordid and incredibly fascinating details on the life of Death Valley Scotty. It would have been way too long and time consuming to post it all here on tumblr. I could never do the con-man justice.