Lower Vine Ranch

Lower Vine Ranch served as the residence for Death Valley Scotty (Walter Scott), one of the best known and most colorful figures produced by the American mining frontier, between 1930 and 1952. The Death Valley Scotty Historic District is regionally significant in the fields of 20th century architecture, folklore and social history, and of local significance in the fields of archeology, art and invention.

Walter Scott retired to Lower Vine and was "content to watch the sun paint colors on his favorite mountain." Buchel, 1984, page 4 as quoted in the Cultural Landscape Inventory

a panoramic view of Lower Vine Ranch
The ranch is organized in a way to best utilize the natural springs. The core area, with its house, barns, corrals, and other features is located adjacent to the springs and on a terrace above the wash, under the shady cottonwood trees.


ranch house
The ranch house, designed by CA MacNeilledge, is best described as a bungalow. It is a small, simple structure that presents the classic single gable in front, which is echoed with the intersecting gable on the side of the building.


The Scotty’s Castle complex and Lower Vine Ranch serve as a reminder of the excesses of mining promotion during the early 20th century, the frontier romanticism connected with it, and the conspicuous consumption practiced by the wealthy during the 1920s. The architecture typifies their values. 

The district as a whole is closely associated with one of the best known and most colorful figures produced by the American mining frontier—Death Valley Scotty (Walter Scott). Lower Vine Ranch served as the residence for Death Valley Scotty. Scotty lived in the main residence between 1930 and 1952. He spent the last two years of his life living at Scotty's Castle when he became old and infirm.

The Lower Grapevine corrals are distinctive structures that characterize the building complex as a small, working ranch. In plan view, the north corral is circular and the south is square. The circular corral was used by Scotty for horse training.


Lower Vine Ranch, a property covering 1500 acres, is located on an alluvial plain on the mouth of the Grapevine Canyon. The historic extent of the property is physically defined by a perimeter fence that was built by Albert Johnson in the 1920s. Several buildings and structures remain and are characteristic of a small, working ranch. Features include a residence, garage, hay storage, blacksmith shop, corrals, reservoirs, roads, and a wooden bridge. 

The most prominent buildings, all constructed with redwood stained a dark brown, at Lower Vine Ranch include Scotty’s ranch house, garage, and grain shed. Scotty’s ranch house, along with the other out buildings, are simple, finely crafted structures in a bungalow style, a typical architectural style found throughout California in the 1920s. 

Today, Lower Vine Ranch displays the seven aspects that determine integrity as defined by the National Register of Historic Places. The landscape characteristics and associated features convey the significance of the historic site with the majority of historic fabric remaining from the historic period of significance, 1907-1954.

Quick Facts

  • Cultural Landscape Type: Designed
  • National Register Significance Level: Local
  • National Register Significance Criteria: B,C
  • Period of Significance: 1907-1954

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Last updated: April 24, 2020