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National Park Mystery Photo 20 Revealed: A Door Knob At Scotty's Castle In Death Valley National Park

Even the door hardware at Scotty's Castle was unusual. Kurt Repanshek photo.

Well, it appears we had a pretty good stumper in this latest Mystery Photo, though one reader came close enough to identify where the photo was taken, but not explain exactly what it was.

The photo was of a decorative door knob in Scotty's Castle in Death Valley National Park. And one that had been handled quite a bit down through the years, judging from the well-worn snout of the what seems to be a deer head.

The Death Valley Ranch, as the property as a whole was called early on, was certainly unusual, from its clock tower all the way down to its ornate door hardware, as Dorothy Shally and William Bolton noted in their booklet, Death Valley's Fabulous Showplace, Scotty's Castle:

A large handcrafted metal chandelier hangs from the center of the high-beamed redwood ceiling. Jasper from west of Goldfield, Nevada, was brought in to build a stone fountain on the east wall. Water falls over the face of the rock into an attractive pond, thus bringing the sound of running water to the desert as well as serving as a humidifier for the Castle. Oppose the fountain, a large fireplace enhances the warm atmosphere of the two-story room. Mythological figures, such as bat-like andirons, are seen throughout the Castle in tiles, bronze-studded figures on the iron radiator grilles, and other room trim.


The photo was taken inside the second-floor foyer in the annex on a door that opens into the lanai.


Of course you stumped everybody. When you siad 'it's not "Scotty's Castle" I thought you meant that it wasn't in Scotty's Castle. That sent everyone off track. Both Scotty's Castle and doorknob were guessed, so I think you didn't really stump everyone.

Wow how cool I had the right place! I wish I had checked back before the answer was revealed, I might have gotten closer! Very cool photo, thanks!

I agree that it was unfair to say it wasn't Scotty's Castle - I mean, how specific do you want people to be? I would have said Scotty's Castle was right, and I should know what is in there pretty well, since I worked there for 3 years. But, to be specific, it is in the Annex (which I personally would consider to be the Castle, but my guess is that you don't consider it part of the Castle proper, and would call the building next door the Castle - I call them the Castle collectively). It is the handle to a slidy bar (very technical term) that bolts shut the door from the hallway (across from the Italian room) to the Lanai. As you enter the Annex on the tour of the Castle, it is immediately to your right. Whenever I had a blind person on the tour, this was the object I let them touch to get an idea of some of the incredible metalwork throughout the castle, since it is very durable and within easy reach - everything else in reach has too nice of a finish still or isn't as intricatly decorated.

Sorry former Scotty's Ranger, we aim for the Mystery Photos to be challenging. If they're too easy they're solved five minutes after they're posted and others don't always get a chance to showoff their knowledge of national park trivia. And a big part of the intent behind them is to help readers explore the parks and give them some insights into what to look for on their next visit to a particular visit.

To say the slide bar is "Scotty's Castle" is akin to saying Old Faithful Geyser is Yellowstone National Park or that Balcony House is Mesa Verde National Park or that the pew in which Herman Melville sat in at the Seamen's Bethel is the bethel itself.

Beyond that, thanks for the added insights into the bar. Perhaps you could settle the unanswered question of whether it's a deer head, or that of some other animal?

I just agree that say it's not Scotty's Castle is misleading. If you say "can you be more specific" then people don't get confused like they did here.

I would say it is either a coyote or a jackel - while there is custom metalwork in the castle, a surprising amount of it was ordered straight out of catalogs, which is why I can't be sure on this particular piece - if it was custom made, then it is a coyote, but if not (which I suspect is the case in this instance) then it is probably a jackel. They often took catalog items and altered them a bit to give them a customized look

I take an informal poll with the visitors and many think it is an armadillo?

Hmm ... I wonder if it is in the Historic Structures Report - I think I still have a copy somewhere ...

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