Fire destroys Scotty’s Castle visitor center

fire at Scotty's castle death valley

We woke up Thursday morning to the tragic news that Death Valley lost another piece of its iconic history. The historic garage at Scotty’s Castle in Death Valley was destroyed by fire and a second building was damaged.

The historic landmark in Death Valley National Park has been closed for ongoing repair work after extensive flood damage in 2015.  The main building (the “castle”) was not damaged by the fire.  Ironically, the garage that was lost, which had been used as a visitor center, was the building most heavily damaged by the October 2015 flash flood.

Scotty's Castle Garage

The Garage/Visitor Center from a 2013 Tour

For anyone who knows me or follows this blog, you know what Death Valley means to me. I love the Park and everything in it.   As for Scotty’s Castle, we have been anxiously awaiting news on when the Castle would finally be restored and tours would resume. This fire will certainly be a setback on the recovery process not to mention the loss of it as a part of the story of the castle for future visitors.

On the last recovery update tour earlier this year, the guides were very ecstatic, as well as us guests, that the National Park Service had listened to all the voices from around the world that wanted to see the castle reopen and for the tours to come back.  The highlight of the tours is that the guides are dressed as if it were the 1930’s, the last year The Johnsons and Scotty had been there together.

Not only did they agree to restore the castle property and open the tours, but the National Park Service had also agreed to restore the property to the way it looked in that time period. Removing almost anything that had been added to the property after 1936.  Sadly, this was one of those outer structures they focused on preserving. Now lost for good.

What is Scotty’s Castle?

Scotty’s Castle was constructed in the 1920s as a vacation home for Albert and Bessie Johnson, millionaires from Chicago. Since its construction, Scotty’s Castle has drawn visitors seeking the truth behind the legend that it was built on a gold mine owned by the Johnsons’ friend, Walter “Scotty” Scott.

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