Thursday, April 5, 2012

A Dream Castle in the Desert (Pahrump, NV)

We went back to the north end of Death Valley National Park.  Our main goal was to visit Scotty's Castle.  I was simply amazed by what we saw.   
Bridge over swimming pool

And the story....well, talk about a Wild West story perfect for a movie...go to this link  to read the story behind the castle.  Here's a quick summary of a story filled with intrigue, a gunfight, an unusual friendship, and a happy ending! 
The story starts with  Scotty - a retired cowboy from Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show.  This cowboy turned con artist was swindling the wealthy by masquerading as a rich miner.  Scotty would go on big spending sprees in the cities to bait the rich.  He had a pretty good scheme going by convincing the wealthy to invest in his "rich" gold mine.

.....Then the Johnsons became one of Scotty's investors. 
Thousands of dollars later and no gold deliveries due to complications, Mr. Johnson decided he needed to come for a visit.  Undaunted, Scotty setup his own wild west show with a mock holdup with hopes of scaring off Mr. Johnson, but it turned sour when one of the actors got hurt.  
The incident did not discourage the Johnsons from coming back again and again, much to Scotty's surprise.  The Johnsons became frequent visitors and fell in love with the desert.  Mrs. Johnson decided they needed a comfortable place to live and this castle in the desert is the result.  

Despite their differences, Scotty and Mr. Johnson became life-long friends.   Scotty became a fixture at the castle and often entertained the Johnson's guests with stories of the West.
There are a couple of paid tours we could have taken, but we were happy to wander around outside.  Just touring the outside took awhile because we explored  every nook and cranny.  If I had gone inside, my photos would have been forced to be spread out over the next two blogs.  I'm only posting half of the photos I took of the castle.
I just love the imagination and the details that went into building this castle.  Almost fairytale quality that delights children as well as adults.  I know my imagination was on fire!  Talk about a fantasy dream come true and living in it.  sigh!

This photo is looking over the gate, through the courtyard to a separate building housing the clock tower.  You can also see a foot bridge going across the courtyard connecting the building's second story.
Dragon or a snake ornate lantern holder
There is a little girl playing with the door as we were walking up the stairs.  She was having a blast closing doors, shouting to her mom she was locked in, and chatting excitedly to her older sister.
Medieval doors
Their very own clock tower stood separate from the main buildings.  There is a clock face on all four sides.

Spanish tiled roof on the clock tower
and Spanish tiles on the clock face
They started construction in 1922 and because the castle is so remote, the Johnsons used very advanced technology to power their home.  They used water flow to turn a Pelton wheel which ran the generator for electricity. They even had a solar heating water system.  They had a water fountain in the main hall that dripped down a rock face giving the place an evaporated cooling system.  Amazing!

 Ornate gates and doors everywhere.  So enchanting!

People crossing the foot bridge

close-up of the door from above
Fish decorated hinges
And to think...all this started with a scam.  

On the Cutting Board
Shame on me!  I haven't been doing much sewing this week.  I haven't touched my Art Nouveau applique or embroidered the Snowman Collector.  I did finish embroidering the last Uncle Sam mug rug.  I hope to get all three sewn together soon.


  1. That is quite a place. It must have seemed truly exotic in the '20s! What wonderful adventures you are having.

  2. Replies
    1. Hi Heather, It is! You should see it for yourself!

  3. This looks like so much fun! Wish I could visit, too!

    1. Hi Malaika, I wish everyone could visit. It is an amazing place!

  4. That is amazing. I just didn't realize that there was that much to do/see in Death Valley.

  5. This definitely on the list, thank you for sharing!

  6. WOW! I would be just happy wandering around outside too. Amazing photos! Thank you so much for sharing. =)
    And...Sometimes it's nice to take a little "break" from work, so don't feel bad about not sewing this week.

  7. There might be a bit of quilt design inspiration in those ornate fixings.

  8. You must have been in heaven taking those photos. Such detail. It makes me want to be creative!

    1. Hi Rachel, I was! Scotty's Castle gives a lot of inspiration to be creative.


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"Friendship is a blessing, It's the best you have to share, The talents and the wisdom, The capacity to care." ~ Emily Matthews

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