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Flood-damaged Scotty’s Castle in Death Valley won’t reopen to visitors until at least 2019

Scotty’s Castle

Scotty’s Castle, before it was damaged in October 2015. It is located in Grapevine Canyon in the northern part of Death Valley National Park.

(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

Work is planned on fixing up Scotty’s Castle, the storied landmark in Death Valley National Park that’s been shut since flash floods last year damaged the circa 1922 ranch house and surrounding roads.

The National Park Service estimates that the castle nicknamed for gold prospector and con man Walter E. Scott may be ready for visitors in 2019.

Death Valley National Park

A 100-yard-long newly paved section of California Highway 267 in Grapevine Canyon was scoured by roiling water in the October 2015 floods.

(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Flood control berms are needed, as well as repairs to the electrical, water and sewer systems and the building itself, a recent report from the agency says.

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On Oct. 18, 2015, heavy rains swept through the desert park and forced the evacuation of its Mesquite Springs Campground. Over the following few weeks, more rain fell. Scotty’s Castle received 4 inches of rain in two days -- an amount it usually receives in a year.

Scotty’s Castle

A photo taken a month after the October 2015 floods shows a foot-thick layer of mud in the visitor center garage area at Scotty’s Castle.

(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Mud and debris from the downpours -- 4 feet thick in some areas -- ruined roads, the Scotty’s Castle visitor center and some of the museum’s artifacts.

Most roads have been cleared, and repairs to Scotty’s Castle Road are expected to begin later this year. Badwater Road (closed through Jubilee Pass to Shoshone, Calif.) are to be fixed starting this month.

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Death Valley National Park

On Nov. 2, 2015, park ranger Linda Slater photographs damage caused by floodwaters inside the visitor center at Scotty’s Castle. 

(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

The unusually heavy rains brought something else to Death Valley this spring: a wildflower bloom that made finding a room in the park and nearby areas nearly impossible. Goldfields and primrose put on a show in what was called a “super-bloom” year.

By the way, Scotty, as he was called, never owned or lived in the building. He persuaded Albert Johnson and his wife, Bessie, of Chicago, to build the Spanish-style vacation home and invest in his prospecting.

They did, but it never panned out, though the place took Scotty’s name. After the Johnsons died in the 1940s, the house became a hotel and was later sold to the Park Service.

Info: Death Valley National Park, (760) 786-3200

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