2011-05-29 - Death Valley and Scotty's Castle
Hottest, Driest, Lowest: A superlative desert of streaming sand dunes, snow-capped mountains, multicolored rock layers, water-fluted canyons and 3 million acres of wilderness. Home to the Timbisha Shoshone people and to plants and animals unique to the harshest desert.
Scotty's Castle is a two-story Mission Revival and Spanish Colonial Revivalstyle Villa located in the Grapevine Mountains of northern Death Valley inDeath Valley National Park, California, U.S.. It is also known as Death Valley Ranch. Scotty's Castle is not a real castle, and it did not belong to the "Scotty" from whom it got its name.
Construction began on Scotty's Castle in 1922, and cost between $1.5 and $2.5 million. A man named Walter Scott born in Cynthiana, Kentucky, also known as “Death Valley Scotty”, convinced Chicago millionaire Albert Johnson to invest in his gold mine in the Death Valley area. By 1937, Johnson had acquired more than 1,500 acres (610 ha) in Grapevine Canyon, where the ranch is located.
After Johnson and his wife made several trips to the region, and his health improved, construction began. It was Mrs. Johnson's idea to build something comfortable for their vacations in the area, and the villa eventually became a winter home.
The Johnsons hired Martin de Dubovay as the architect, Mat Roy Thompsonas the engineer and head of construction, and Charles Alexander MacNeilledge as the designer.
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 further 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. 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, to which the Johnsons left the property. Walter Scott, who was taken care of by the Gospel Foundation after Johnson's passing, died in 1954 and was buried on the hill overlooking Scotty's Castle next to a beloved dog.
The Devil's Golf Course is a large salt pan on the floor of Death Valley, located in the Mojave Desert within Death Valley National Park in eastern California.It was named after a line in the 1934 National Park Service guide book to Death Valley National Monument, which stated that "Only the devil could play golf" on its surface, due to a rough texture from the large halite salt crystal formations.
Badwater Basin is an endorheic basin in Death Valley National Park, Death Valley, Inyo County, California, noted as the lowest point in North America, with an elevation of 282 ft (86 m) below sea level. Mount Whitney, the highest point in thecontiguous 48 states, is only 84.6 miles (136 km) to the WNW.
The site itself consists of a small spring-fed pool of "bad water" next to the road in a sink; the accumulated salts of the surrounding basin make it undrinkable, thus giving it the name. The pool does have animal and plant life, including pickleweed,aquatic insects, and the Badwater snail.
Adjacent to the pool, where water is not always present at the surface, repeated freeze–thaw and evaporation cycles gradually push the thin salt crust into hexagonal honeycomb shapes.
The pool itself is not actually the lowest point of the basin: the lowest point (which is only slightly lower) is several miles to the west and varies in position. However, the salt flats are hazardous to traverse (in many cases being only a thin white crust over mud), and so the sign is at the pool. The area is often mistakenly described as the lowest elevation in the Western Hemisphere, however, the record goes to Laguna del Carbón in Argentina at −105 m (−344 ft).
Artist's Drive and Palette rises up to the top of an alluvial fan fed by a deep canyon cut into the Black Mountains. Artist's Palette is on the face of the Black Mountains and is noted for having various colors of rock. These colors are caused by the oxidation of different metals (red, pink and yellow is from iron salts, green is from decomposing tuff-derived mica, and manganese produces the purple).
Called the Artist Drive Formation, the rock unit provides evidence for one of the Death Valley area's most violently explosive volcanic periods. The Miocene-aged formation is made up of cemented gravel, playa deposits, and much volcanic debris, perhaps 5,000 feet (1500 m) thick. Chemical weathering and hydrothermal alteration are also responsible for the variety of colors displayed in the Artist Drive Formation and nearby exposures of the Furnace Creek Formation.