Courtney Chauncey Julian

Courtney Chauncey Julian
C. C. Julian

Courtney Chauncey Julian, C. C. Julian, was a businessman and shameless promoter who’s business dealings forced him to flee to California for China. He is noteworthy in his dealing in Death Valley National Park for his promotion of the town of Leadfield. After numerous court battles, he fled to Shanghai, China where he is poisoned or committed suicide.

This town was the brain child of C. C. Julian, who could have sold ice to an Eskimo. He wandered into Titus Canyon with money on his mind. He blasted some tunnels and liberally salted them with lead ore he had brought from Tonopah. Then he sat down and drew up some enticing, maps of the area. He moved the usually dry and never deep Amargosa River miles from its normal bed.

He drew pictures of ships steaming up the river hauling out the bountiful ore from his mines. Then he distributed handbills and lured Eastern promoters into investing money. Miners flocked in at the scent of a big strike and dug their hopeful holes. They built a few shacks. Julian was such a promoter he even conned the U. S. Government into building a post office here. 

Desert Magazine – 1971 – Betty J. Tucker

References

Carl Mengel – Panamint Valley Miner

Carl Mengel was a prospector and miner in Panamint Valley, located in Death Valley National Park, California. He lost a leg in a mining accident, and continued to mine. He is the namesake for Mengel Pass in the Panamint Range. His ashes and prosthetic leg are buried on top of Mengel Pass in Death Valley National Park.

Carl Mengel with dog "Whitey at his home in Butte Valley, April 1940. Photo courtesy of DEVA NM.
Carl Mengel with dog “Whitey at his home in Butte Valley, April 1940. Photo courtesy of DEVA NM.

Carl Mengel was born in San Bernardino, California, in 1868. After various attempts at mining, farming, and fishing for a living, Mengel moved the Butte Valley region of Death Valley in the early 1900s. He is said to have purchased the Oro Fino Claim in Goler Wash in 1912, and later found even richer deposits there

Mengel was an early prospector in the Butte Valley area and contemporary and friend of such well-known Death Valley personalities as Shorty Harris and Pete Aguereberry. The site is located about one-half mile south of Anvil Spring and commands a grand view over Butte Valley toward the Amargosa Range on the east side of the salt pan.

.In October 1924 Mengel filed on several claims south and west of Anvil Spring: Topah Numbers. 1-4, Topah Extension, and Mah Jongg Numbers. 1-6. He died in 1944 and his ashes were put in a stone cairn atop Mengel Pass approximately fifty feet outside the boundary of Death Valley National Monument.

After his death the claims located by Mengel in Butte Valley underwent numerous resales through the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. The Topaz (Topah) Extension, Topaz (Topah) No. 1, and part of the Topaz (Topah) Extension claims were later amended and located as the Greater View Springs, Greater View Springs No. 1, and Greater View Springs Millsite, respectively.

References

 Albert Mussey Johnson – Death Valley Ranch Owner

Albert Mussey Johnson
Albert Mussey Johnson

Albert Mussey Johnson (1872 – 1948) was a businessman and investor who received notoriety as the millionaire, who built “Scotty’s Castle” in Death Valley, California. He was born into a Quaker family n Oberlin Ohio and attended Cornell University to study engineering.

Johnson borrowed a sum of $40,000 from his father and invested in some mining operations in Joplin, Missouri. This initial investment returned five hundred percent dur to a zinc boom. Albert travelled across Utah and Colorado, in December if 1899, with his father looking for investment opportunities in power production or mining ventures. While on this trip, the father and son team are involved in a rail accident which kills his fater and leaves Albert bedridden with a broken back.

Johnson eventually recovered from his broken back but he suffered with chronic medical issues and walked with a noticeable limp. This injury caused Johnson to focus his professional efforts in economic investment pursuits. He pursue relationships with his fathers partners and soon built up a career as a vice president of the Arkansas Midland Railroad and later the president of the North American Cold Storage Company.

In 1904, Walter Scott AKA Death Valley Scotty ran into Johnson while Scotty is looking for new investors for his gold mines in Death Valley, California. Scott was a conman who would defraud investors of this infamous gold mines. Despite no return on is investment, Johnson continued to send Scott’s ventures.

Death Valley Scotty and the Johnsons
Death Valley Scotty and the Johnsons

Johnson first visited Death Valley in 1906 to tour Scott’s Gold Mines. The two became embroiled in the Battle of Wingate Pass, where Scott’s brother is shot in the groin. This injury forced a retreat from Death Valley. Johnson did not return to Death Valley for another three years. In 1909, he returned to the valley seeking to visit the mines in which he invested. It is said the dry air was a benefit to Johnson’s health. For whatever the reason, Johnson began purchasing land. Johnson purchased about 1500 acres of land. The Steininger Ranch was the most important parcel. Nestled in a spring-fed verdant valley, this was soon to be the site of the Death Valley Ranch.

Scotty's Castle located in Grapevine Canyon in Death Valley.
Scotty’s Castle located in Grapevine Canyon in Death Valley.

In 1922, Johnson started building Scotty’s castle as a vacation home.  When the size and scope of the property was realized, people assumed Scotty used the proceeds for his gold mine to pay for the Ranch.  Scotty, ever the promoter did nothing to correct the record and soon The Johnson’ vacation home.

Due to its remote location, the Death Valley Ranch needed to maintain its own power station and water supply and evaporation cooling system. Despite the conditions, Scotty’s Castle boasts a 1,121 pipe theater organ, fountains, clock tower and a massive unfinished swimming pool.

The stock market crash impacted Johnson’s fortune. He was not able to complete the Death Valley Ranch.

References

Walter Edward Perry Scott – “Death Valley Scotty”

Walter Edward Perry Scott  (September 20, 1872 – January 5, 1954), also known as “Death Valley Scotty”, was a miner, prospector and conman who operated around Death Valley, California. Later in life, he was befriended by Albert Johnson, who built the Death Valley Ranch in Grapevine Canyon in Death Valley, which is commonly known as “Scotty’s Castle“.

Walter Scott (1872 - 1954)
Walter Scott (1872 – 1954)

Walter was born in Cynthiana, Kentucky to a family of six children. He moved west to Nevada to join his brothers at the age of eleven. He worked as a water boy for a survey party, and later found employment at the Harmony Borax Works in Death Valley. Later, Scotty worked for the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show as one of the rough riders. It was seasonal work, and while he was employed by the show for twelve years, he would return to Death Valley for odd jobs.

After a disagreement with Buffalo Bill, Scott left the show for good and again returned to Death Valley. Upon his return, he took up prospecting for gold. Scotty as a prospector was more of a con man who used to con investors in to backing his “mining” adventures.  It was reported that when the investor’s delegation wanted the view their new mine, Scotty would march them around the hot valley until they forgave or forgot about their investment.

On March 11, 1906 Scotty stared as himself in a play which opened in Seattle to a full house.   We was arrested after his only performance and the charged for his crimes, the publicity exposed him to new investors.  In spite of this Albert Johnson maintain interested in his “mine”. Another investigator was sent, who reported back that the mine did not exist. Johnson refused to believe this, and the following year he visited the mine himself, but left without seeing the mine.  He was later sued by his investors in 1915 and ended up in jail.

Death Valley Scotty and the Johnsons
Death Valley Scotty and the Johnsons

For various reasons, Johnson felt beneficent towards Scott, and in a verbal agreements made specific provisions allowing Scott the right to live out the rest of his life at the castle. Johnson is known to have provided several thousand dollars for years. Walter Edward Perry Scott, AKA “Death Valley Scotty” died in January of 1954 and is buried on a hill about the Death Valley Ranch, which is known as Scott’s Castle.

References

Charles Ferge “Seldom Seen Slim” – A Ballarat Prospector

Charles Ferge "Seldom Seen Slim"
Charles Ferge “Seldom Seen Slim”

Charles Ferge “Seldom Seen Slim” is the last of the known prospectors who lived in the town of Ballarat located in Death Valley National Park, California.

Seldom Seen Slim, named Charles Ferge, was born in Illinois on October 21st 1881. Slim came to Ballarat sometime between 1913 and 1917 not long after the town was abandoned by the miners seeking their fortunes elsewhere.

Ferge became the last resident of Ballarat and had a reputation as a recluse with a cantankerous side. He survived in one of the harshest landscapes living on his own in his town of Ballarat. It is said that he lived in every remaining building of the ghost town. His focus was mining and he just needed enough money to survive as a desert prospector. Slim only needed enough money to buy necessities of food, tobacco for his pipe, water, gas for his car and clothes.

When the water source in Ballarat dried up due to a dropping water table, Slim would haul water into the town using jugs from other sources miles away. The scarcity of water would only allow the man to bathe a few times per year.

While is is the sole citizen of Ballarat, the town had no running water, no electricity or any other services He became an unofficial curator for the ghost town. Slim would often tell stories to visitors and sell them souvenirs of gold ore.

Seldom Seen Slim died of cancer in 1968 in Trona, California. He is buried on “Boot Hill” in Ballarat and his greave is a popular place to stop.

Me lonely? Hell no! I’m half coyote and half wild burro.

Charles Ferge “Seldom Seen Slim”

References