Scotty's Castle (Landscape no border)
Construction began on Scotty's Castle in 1922, and cost between $1.5 and $2.5 million. Prospector, performer, and con man Walter Scott, born in Cynthiana, Kentucky, also known as “Death Valley Scotty,” convinced Chicago millionaire Albert Mussey Johnson to invest in his gold mine in the Death Valley area. Though initially angered when the mine turned out to be fraudulent, Johnson was fascinated with the colorful Scott and the two men struck up an unlikely friendship. By 1937, Johnson had acquired more than 1,500 acres (610 ha) in Grapevine Canyon, where the ranch is located.
Unknown to the Johnsons, the initial survey was incorrect, and the land they built Death Valley Ranch on was actually government land; their land was farther up Grapevine Canyon. Construction halted as they resolved this mistake, but before it could resume, the stock market crashed in 1929, making it difficult for Johnson to finish construction. Having lost a considerable amount of money, the Johnsons used the Death Valley Ranch to produce income by letting rooms out, upon the suggestion of Scott. The Johnsons died without heirs and had hoped that the National Park Service would purchase the property, and in 1970, the National Park Service purchased the villa for $850,000 from the Gospel Foundation (the socially-oriented charity Johnson founded in 1946), to which the Johnsons had left the property.
Approximately 100,000 people tour the villa each year. The Johnsons' original furnishings and clothing can still be seen today. The U.S. National Park Service gives guided tours of Scotty's Castle for a fee. Park rangers dress in 1930s style clothes to help take the visitor back in time. During the tour, guests are treated to the sounds of a 1,121-pipe Welte theater organ. An underground mystery tour is also available for those wishing to see the inner workings of the building. One-quarter mile of tunnels run under the building, where visitors can visit the powerhouse and see thousands of tiles that were to be used for the never-finished swimming pool. The tunnels also contain hundreds of nickel-iron battery cells, used to regulate power and provide backup power. The main house tour is ADA accessible, but the underground tour is not.