This story is another reminder that sometimes reality is stranger than fiction. The Death Valley is a dry stretch of emptiness, but seemingly in this middle of nowhere lies a fantastic mansion built during the Gilded Age. How did this end up here?
Con-man Walter Scott, aka "Death Valley Scotty" convinced Chicago millionaire Albert Mussey Johnson (along with other investors) to invest in Scott's gold mine expeditions in the Death Valley in 1905.
However, there were no goldmines, and Scotty was put on trial in 1906. Although he was acquitted on a technicality, his scams were uncovered.
Through this whole ordeal however, Johnson somehow took a liking to Scotty (don't ask me why) and the two men became friends. Johnson and his wife also became attached to Death Valley and decided to build a winter home there, as well as a cabin for Scotty. Scotty returned to his old ways and spread rumors about his gold mine, and even claimed that the Johnsons' mansion was his. Thus the Johnsons' winter home came to be known as "Scotty's Castle."
Johnson found all this amusing and didn't stop Scotty, and even left in his will that Scotty could live in the mansion as long as he wanted until his death.
Scotty's Castle belongs to the National Park Service today, open to tourists year-round.