At Scotty’s Castle I lead house tours and Tom leads underground tours. I also work in the visitor center and sometimes have part of a day to do some costume sewing for someone. Another duty that Tom and I do occasionally is trailing the Lower Vine Ranch Tour.
Lower Vine Ranch is the place that Walter Scott, Death Valley Scotty, lived for more than 20 years. It is about seven miles from Scotty’s Castle via the road. This area of the park is archaeologically sensitive because of its importance to local Native Americans so it is closed unless you are on a ranger-guided tour. Last week I trailed Jeanette as she led the tour.
The tour is a short hike – one mile – up a dirt road to the Lower Vine Ranch. Here Scotty had a small, four-room house made of redwood. It has an airy front porch, one bedroom, a kitchen, and a small dining room. Scotty did not want any electricity, but he did have running water and a toilet. He moved the bathtub outside and could often be found sitting in a tub-full of water in his long-johns.
When Scotty was at the Lower Vine Ranch, he was pretty reclusive. If he didn’t know you were coming, you would probably be warned off by a rifle shot. The public Scotty was on display at the Castle, but the private Scotty did not like to have people around.
He had a corral for his mules and a blacksmith shop so he could shoe them himself. He also had various other animals including the occasional pig. Those who visited the Lower Vine Ranch said that Scotty lived like a pig and could often be found drunk and asleep under a tree next to the pigs.
The tour of Lower Vine Ranch is interesting and gives people a chance to learn about the “behind-the-scenes” Scotty. I have trailed Isabelle and Jeanette as they gave the tour and both of them told interesting stories about Scotty and about how the land around Lover Vine Ranch was used.