Boulder City - The Magazine is a monthly publication full of information about Boulder City and Southern Nevada. Boulder City - The Magazine features the Boulder City Home Guide, a real estate guide to Boulder City and Southern Nevada.

North Thru Nevada
by Everett Chase

Visiting Death Valley
Avoiding the preternatural approach to Death Valley and Scotty's Castle from the south, I braked, turned around in the middle of Highway 95, and drove back to the entrance of Highway 267 at Scotty's Junction. It was the beginning of a new adventure along a road into unknown territory, at least untraveled by me in the past.

This northern entrance to Death Valley and Scotty's Castle is unlike the southern entrance from Beatty which is a more convenient approach driving from Las Vegas. We traveled about 25 miles along this deserted (saw only one vehicle, which passed us), but well maintained two lane asphalt road providing a path to Scotty's Castle. Using this approach we crossed beautiful rolling hills covered with a plethora of desert vegetation.
It was a surprise to see the Castle before reaching any part of what I knew as Death Valley. The Castle, which lies along the northeastern border of the Valley against a mountain side, is very much a castle with its two towers on opposite ends of the buildings. Outside and inside are interesting concoctions of rooms, staircases, and courtyards.

The Castle can only be appreciated fully by seeing an aerial view to understand its size, by traveling through the corridors and rooms, and by walking the tile floors of this unique mansion.

The basic structure itself was built in 1922 as a two story rectangular stucco building, but it took on its kingly look in 1927 when an adjoining wing with porches, towers, and new exterior walls was added.
But it's the stories of mystery and intrigue which bring to light what the reality and the myth is all about. These stories, having been told by visitors in the past, continue even now through the imagination and education of Castle tour guides and the people who follow the guides up the staircases, down the halls, and through the rooms of the multi-million dollar attraction.

As we followed our guide, each change in location along the tour brought an introduction of what we would see and to what we should pay attention.

For example: Our guide began with the primary character and those close to him who were involved in the creation of the Castle and the myth. Primary of course, were the stories of the man for whom the castle was named.

Walter E. Scott, born a Kentuckian in 1872, became Death Valley Scotty, rancher, miner, wild west showman, and some might say, a "con man."

While Scotty may have been king of his castle it was a grubstake from millionaire insurance man, Albert C. Johnson, who provided much of the funds Scotty needed to quench his thirst for gambling, drinking, following the wild west shows, and prospecting. If in fact that thirst could be quenched.

Unlikely bedfellows to be sure, Johnson helped Scotty fulfill many of his dreams. While Scotty may not be all myth, how he obtained the property, built his Castle and became part of the great western folklore, certainly stretches ones imagination.

I recall traveling to Death Valley with my parents when I was very young, and again when I was in high school (Scotty died at age 82 the year I graduated), but it wasn't until I was older and made other trips to Death Valley with my own young family that I began to appreciate something more than athletics, and found value in things historic.

Scotty's Castle is in the hills at the northern end of Death Valley, and while certainly a historic site worth seeing and living, one should also travel the 53 miles and a couple hundred feet below sea level to reach another of those landmarks considered historic.

Furnace Creek Inn and Ranch Resort might have been in Ronald Reagan's 20 Mule Team Borax TV program, but I can only remember Reagan's appearance on the wagon. What I do remember is, Furnace Creek is hot - the original meaning of the word.

Our trip was squeezed in before the searing three figure temperature of 110 and beyond set in. One who travels the miles to Furnace Creek from any direction will understand the meaning of furnace. Death Valley is the hottest and lowest spot in the Western Hemisphere.

Its early settlement began in 1849, but unlike other areas of the West, Death Valley did not become famous for its gold or silver. Death Valley's "rush" was for a mineral named Borax. The white powder made some people rich, while the powder and an ape, helped another become president of the United States.

Death Valley is a National Park and for all its heat and seemingly barren land, there are many sites to experience. Furnace Creek Inn & Ranch Resort, opened in 1927, has been a favorite stop for most of the visitors traveling through or visiting the Valley.

Although the Inn was closed on this trip (disappointing my traveling companion), we were able to enjoy a relaxing lunch and a walk around the area. I have been lucky enough to enjoy both the Inn and Ranch for weekend stays in the past and of course I rubbed that in. (The perks one gets for growing up in Las Vegas instead of Chicago.)

Like most of our National Parks there is a good reason for the designation. It would be a shame to destroy this treasure even though for some people it looks like barren wasteland. This Park, like many of our parks, particularly in Nevada, became a point of interest because of its minerals. There is more to it than minerals, much more.

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