DEATH VALLEY, CA – Repairs at Scotty’s Castle are progressing as the four-year anniversary of the flood approaches. The National Park Service (NPS) plans to reopen the popular historic site in October 2021.
Scotty’s Castle received close to its annual average rainfall in five hours on October 18, 2015. The flash flood caused $47 million in damages to roads, buildings, and utilities in the historic district. That much funding is not coming from a single source all at once. The park is receiving funds from park entrance fees, Federal Highways Administration, NPS deferred maintenance accounts, and donations spread over multiple years.
One consequence of patching together funding, Death Valley is managing the repairs of Scotty’s Castle as discrete projects, each focused on single buildings , with its own funding. There isn’t a single general contractor for all repairs . Designs are done by architecture and engineering firms. Other companies handle construction. Each project progressing on its own schedule.
Design has begun to repair the Chimes Tower: address potential fuel leaks from five underground storage tanks and repair the water distribution system.
Designs are nearly completed on replacing the heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC) and constructing berms to direct future floods away from the historic buildings.
Each project’s next step is for specialists to review the design documents for impacts to the historic district. The Visitor Center project is under review currently. During the design phase, engineers determined that the only way to protect the historic Garage (which serves as the Visitor Center) from side drainage flooding is to build a 2-foot-high flood wall near the building’s northwest corner. Another planned change is to widen a 3-foot opening in a breezeway in the L-shaped building’s corner to allow future floods to pass through. The NPS and the California State Historic Preservation Officer are on the verge of signing an agreement on plans to mitigate these impacts.
Some projects recently completed include articulated concrete blocks installed around the historic bridge. The surrounding landscape was scoured down eight feet, exposing the bridge’s foundation. This work will prevent damage from future floods where flood speeds were fastest. Historic concrete fence posts were reconstructed and installed. Like the original posts, are stamped with “S” and “J” for Scotty and Johnson. Unlike the historic posts, the reproductions are stamped with “2019” to distinguish them from the intact original posts.
Construction began in September to replace destroyed components of the water system, install a new leach field and septic tank, and upgrade the electrical system.
Bonnie Clare Road reconstruction has been in progress . Federal Highway Administration designed “armor” for the road to protect it from future floods. When water runs across the road in these locations, this will prevent scouring down through the shoulder, undercutting and washing away the road.
Bonnie Clare Road is closed from the park boundary (where it transitions to NV-267) through Grapevine Canyon to the junction with North Highway and Ubehebe Crater Road. The road will remain closed during other construction projects at Scotty’s Castle due to safety hazards.
During this continued closure, limited opportunities to visit Scotty’s Castle with a park ranger, learn about the site’s colorful history, and witness the work in progress to repair the historic district. Tours are offered on Sundays from December 8 through April 12. Reservations are required in advance at www.dvnha.org.
Learn about restoration efforts online at www.nps.gov/deva/learn/photosmultimedia/videos.htm.
Abby Wines [email protected]