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 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.
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.