Thursday, April 10, 2008

Death Valley Ranch AKA Scotty's Castle

One of the most interesting places in Death Valley is the desert home of Albert and Bessie Johnson. The kids and I took a tour while my husband finished grading final exams, so grades could be complied for his students. This home, Death Valley Ranch, was more commonly known as Scotty's Castle, named after Johnson's famous friend, Walter Scott.

The Story of Albert Johnson

The story of Bessie Johnson

The Story of Death Valley Scotty.

Story of Scotty's Castle. And Here's More.

Listen to the pipe organ and see more pictures.

Here are some of my favorite photos from the visit.

The large two story home from the outside.

Weather Vane perched on a tower.

Bell tower.


Red tiles and a Joshua Tree.


Interesting window shutters.


A view through the courtyard gate.

Our tour guide. Her dress may have been the most interesting part of the tour to me. I love the details of the dress, which are hard to see in the photo. I think I'm going to work on copying the dress. The pocket are put on on a slant, and have a rounded notch cut out of the top. There are 10 little bottons and fabric loops up the bodice. The waist slopes up in the front center, with a couple tucks in the bodice secured into the waist. There is a kick pleat in the front and back of the skirt. I'm assuming it is 1930's styling.

The Front door of the home.

Even though they lived in the middle of no where, Mr. Johnson had devised his own pelton wheel power plant using water running down from the hills.

Scotty was given his own room in the home. I liked Scotty's hat, still hanging on the wall above his dreser.

His head board was ornately carved. His bed quilt was suitable for a man.

One of the beautiful tables in the home. I liked the flower in the center. Could it be the famous Desert Gold flower that blooms in the spring? Artisans from all over the world were brought in to help with the details of the furnishings and the home itself.


Some of the china tea cups on a shelf in the kitchen. Can't you see them being used on the sunflower table on a sunny afternoon while Betsy entertained a famous guest.Besty had a bed made just for her, with a fold down table where she could sit and write. She liked to write sermons that she delivered every week. In the top floor of the home there is a 1,000 pipe pipe organ, that still plays. I noticed that the room was set up in a way that it could be used to entertain guests with music, and with just a little arranging, it would look like a church. I didn't hear anything in the tour about preaching, but it seems that the Johnson's home must have been used as a church also.

I learned Bessie was under 5 foot tall, and so her specially made bed was made just for her. Her husband's bed, on the other hand was 7 feet long, as he was quite tall.
A hand crank sewing machine was set up in Bessie's room, as was a typewriter. Along the walls were shelves with Bessie's collection of native made baskets.

Her tiled kitchen had a refrigerator, and ice box that actually made ice cubes. There was a electric stove, and a table for when they weren't entertaining. There was also a kitchen in another building for making food for workers, artisans, and other guests on the property.

5 bouquets of wildflowers (Comment here):

Hildegard said...

I love the writing table built into the bed! I do all my journaling in bed, leaning up against the wall at my back. Perhaps someday I'll have a bed like that built for me, too.

La Tea Dah said...

One of my favorite places! I felt right at home reading your post today. They were playing Christmas music on the organ when we were there. What kind of music did they play for you?

LaTeaDah

VJ said...

I remember my visit to Scotty's castle and Death Valley. I was in Academy when we went on a family vacation. It's an amazing piece of real estate, that's for sure.

Theresa said...

What an interesting tour. I love how tiny that little sewing machine is and I also liked the dress.

Pamela said...

nice tour from you, too!
I wonder if I'll ever get to visit there. Looks enchanting -