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Mohahve Historical Society
Walter Scott (Death Valley Scotty)1872-1954
B. Frasher photo
Death Valley Scotty certainly remains Death Valley's greatest legend for his flamboyant and outrageous character. Born Walter Scott in 1872, he ran away as a young boy from his home in Kentucky to join his brother on a ranch in Nevada.
He worked numerous jobs in the area, including a few in Death Valley, a place he loved immediately and which would someday become his home. In 1890, a talent scout for Buffalo Bill Cody discovered Scotty and hired him to work as a cowboy with the Wild West show.
After traveling the world with the Wild West for twelve years, Scotty began a new profession that brought him even more fame and riches - gold prospecting. He convinced several wealthy businessmen that he had claim to a gold mine worth a fortune in Death Valley. Scotty agreed to split the profits, provided they first offer enough money to extract the ore.
Scotty apparently had little luck while prospecting in Death Valley over the next few years. However the desert dweller often turned up at the finest hotels and saloons of California and Nevada, and began what would become his legendary spending sprees.
Johnson Becomes a Partner
Scotty's most steadfast investor was Chicago insurance magnate
Albert Johnson. The two men struck quite a contrast to one another
when they met soon after the turn of the century. Mr. Johnson was a
well respected and religious man, whereas Scotty was a rowdy and shady
Death Valley Scotty Special: In July 1905 Walter "Death Valley Scotty" Scott spent $100,000 to rent a four-car train
pulled by a steam locomotive in an attempt to break the speed record from the Los Angeles to Chicago. The Sante Fe
train made the trip in 44 hours and 54 minutes, a record that stood for thirty years. The Barstow to Needles segment
of the run took just 3 hours and 15 minutes. Also known as the Coyote Special.
B. Frasher photo